FILE PHOTO: Borussia Dortmund’s Raphael Guerreiro celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Image: Reuters

COVID-19’s unprecedented worldwide spread has halted all football activities to an uncertain period. Even so, Germany’s Bundesliga and South Korea’s K-League have begun their campaigns, albeit without supporters.

In the case of these leagues, all regulations have strictly adhered to guidelines that are laid out based on government directive and protocols as set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The new normal standard operating procedures would be a precedent to allow football activities around the globe to restart.

The resumption of Bundesliga and K-League serves as an indicator for FIFA to monitor the necessary SOPs and effectiveness of the games post-pandemic.

Other leagues are also observing the leagues and could draft similar SOPs to restart.

Depending on respective governments, football can only resume if the pandemic situation is at a manageable level, yet closed-doors would be the best option to minimise the spike of contagion among the public.

It is rather gloomy for stadiums lack thunderous support from fans, but clubs are creative to install live-sized cardboards, and miniatures resembling fans placed at the seats.

Take Borussia Dortmund as an example. The famous Yellow Wall section at the Signal Iduna was empty but players were still giving respect to honour them as if they were present, at postmatch.

Formalities and arrangements are going through the new normal as underlined by the SOP. A team requires two buses to transport players and staff into the stadium, with a prior declaration of health stating negative from COVID-19.

Going into the match, no prematch handshakes is observed. Substitutes are seated apart from each other. Goal celebration is allowed but no flocking and hugging. Spitting and removing shirts are not permitted at all.

In order to ensure all players are sanitised and fresh, soaked shirts must be changed to new ones at halftime; no shirt swapping allowed at fulltime.

Postmatch interviews are done within the recommended distance with microphones covered.

Near home, the Malaysian League is expected to resume in September as northern neighbour Thailand shall resumes its Thai League in July. Both leagues would be played behind closed doors.

Perhaps it is best not to expect full normalcy in the near future as the pandemic still permeates, with vaccines and interventions are still being developed.

At present, the new normal is taking place and fans must adapt to this to keep supporting from home amid these trying times.

The Bruneian | KUALA LUMPUR


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