Monday’s soccer news starts with the Premier League letting its clubs know that they’re serious about enforcing coronavirus restrictions. Hugging during goal celebrations became the easy headline, but it’s doubling down on what should’ve already been in place to limit exposure. The reasoning remains obvious. Aston Villa is the latest club needing to postpone a game due to positive tests. Their Wednesday game against Spurs is off, with Spurs now playing Fulham instead.
“It is vital to ensure public, government and stakeholder confidence in the training and match-day protocols that individual transgressions by relevant persons are appropriately investigated and sanctioned by clubs,” the Premier League wrote to the clubs. “Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action by the league individually against the relevant person, where appropriate (for example, where his or her conduct brings the league into disrepute) and/or against the club (where the relevant person’s conduct constitutes a breach of the training protocol).”
Which, once again, raises that big picture issue the Premier League has yet to convincingly address. Fortunately, at least one Premier League manager is raising it for them.
“Morally, with the situation we have in the county, with the situation we have worldwide, to keep doing what we are doing is a little bit of a strange feeling,” Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said during a press conference on Monday. We know as well what we can bring to society if we are able to do it in a safe way, then there are a lot of positives to take. It’s just that balance. When this starts to get damaging and worrying and it starts to exploit people, and when we can do it and it’s still safe and we can add something positive. It’s a difficult context.”
Indeed it is, raising issues that the Premier League ultimately isn’t dealing with in real time. Getting the games in takes over, with the Premier League and the rest of the English professional levels continuing their push forward. It shouldn’t be lost on anybody that this also includes the Football Association itself after a weekend of disrupted normal in the FA Cup.
The idea that squeezing more games into a compacted schedule ever made sense requires substantial creative thinking. Treating any of this as normal right now also takes ignoring real life in a way that’s silly even for professional sports. Regardless, it’s now on the players to restrain celebrations and the clubs to make sure limited numbers of people are in limited numbers of places.
Also in the soccer news, American player Matthew Hoppe scored three times in Schalke’s 4-0 home win over Hoffenheim, breaking their lengthy winless streak. “We have a strong team,” Hoppe said. “We’ve been through a very difficult period and now we have a new-found confidence that can help us turn this win into some momentum. I hope that we can maintain that self-belief and pick up some more wins to help us stay up.”
BBC Sport reports that even though Celtic has 13 players and its manager out due to positive tests, they’ll play Hibernian on Monday. The Guardian’s Paul MacInnes and Jacon Steinberg look at the Premier League’s decision to quickly schedule Spurs vs Fulham. The Athletic reports on potential issues with the Sacramento MLS expansion team.
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