Football hiatus might be ample time to Refuel and Rethink
The Turkish Superlig was the last to go. Like a knight in a battlefield bravely swinging his sword in a heroic fit of defeating defiance, the Turkish top flight, last week, dropped and hit the ground, becoming the latest top-flight league to be halted due to the coronavirus – Covid-19. If this analogy makes the whole issue currently going on sound a tad light-hearted, the reality is far from it; lives are at stake, health is paramount, and football is relatively trivial and pale, no matter what Bill Shankly or marketers have told you.
Football has the tendency to oversell itself as the be-all and end-all. Even in these times, it’s proving so; the Premier League not really getting its act together about Covid-19 until a key member of personnel (Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta) tested positive for it, and then the footballing authorities giving us updates about when the game will return and what has been postponed to when. Football has the arrogant/ignorant inability to read the room, and know when to take a step back and recognise that it just shouldn’t talk right now.
Then again, football is still important. It matters so little, yet matters much. As the cliché goes, it’s the most important of the least important things, insignificantly significant. And football, following the halting of the Turkish top-flight division, has significantly taken a step back. The beautiful game is currently not happening, and the game’s truly gone, Jeff.
Normally, this time of the week will see us still dissecting the questions from the footballing weekend; do VAR need to get rid of those dotted lines for offside, or should the whole thing be cut off completely? Will RB Leipzig keep up with Bayern Munich? Is this finally Leeds United’s season? Is this win another deceptive result for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer? Is Jose Mourinho right to throw that player under the bus?
But these are not normal circumstances. In this current state of things, everything is simultaneously taking an age to happen and also happening too fast. Liverpool’s dramatic defeat at home to Atletico Madrid is less than two weeks old, yet it seems so long ago now, you’d expect the Football Ramble to do a Greatest Games podcast episode on it. That’s how much things have changed, and how much football has been shafted aside.
But maybe this is a good thing. Maybe this absence of football comes, with respect to the important things happening, at the right time. Before the spread of Covid-19, there was a sense that we’d been seeing too much football. And that wasn’t without reason; for almost a month, football, live football, seemed to be happening every night. It seemed like an overload; and there was a case of football fatigue, it was too much and everyone needed to press pause.
Perhaps this is where the halting of football has a silver lining. When it returns, it will be truly felt and savoured, it’s hard not to imagine the atmosphere at the first game happens, when the first goal is scored. Absence has made the heart grow fonder, at a time when the presence was starting to become a bit sickening.
For the footballing bodies as well, perhaps this could be a teachable moment. Football’s suits, particularly FIFA and UEFA, have spent the past few years trying to cram every tiny little opening in the calendar with football, like playing its own high-pressing game, but the opponent it is suffocating is its key players in the industry. Spread the Euros around the continent, chuck in ginormous Club World Cup, seek a European Super League, and whatnot, the football authorities stopped viewing players as humans and as components to continue their capitalist money-making products. Maybe, for them as well, this huge pause is a moment of reflection, particularly considering, as the postponement of the Euros and the scramble to find a way to finish the season as shown, that the football calendar needs significant breathing room; that football doesn’t really matter, and when life happens, the game needs room to step back.
We’re currently in a time of social distancing and self-isolation, and while there’s a need to not sound insensitive at the moment, and forget what’s important, for football, this is probably a time for pondering and self-reflection. It’ll be a bit naïve to think a return of football will come with a fair bit of level-headedness, but if this is not a time to sit down and have a think about the state of the game, when is?
Kunle Ajao121 Posts
Kunle Ajao is a football writer and columnist for spotkick. Having made a toss of himself trying to actually play the game, he knew better and got a pen instead of boots. Spends a bit of his time with the game, and thinks he's a bit like Sid Lowe. He's not