By Asghar Maziar

A practical plan to resume IPL games and stay healthy

April 15, 2020 - 14:14

TEHRAN - The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has affected all parts of the communities over the world, including sports and, in particular, football.

When it comes to sports, it involves both economic and entertainment. With much of the sports events on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no broadcasting rights and no ticket sale. The small businesses around football, such as selling of jerseys and team items, are now severely damaged. For fans, the wait for some action is a frustrating time.

In such a situation, when athletes are forced to stay at homes and do fewer sports activities, they are more likely to lose their fitness and suffer injuries after returning to the competitions. 

The suspension of football leagues is another issue that has raised a lot of questions. Can Liverpool be declared champions if the 2019-20 English Premier League season is voided? They need just two more wins to secure the title. And yet, declaring them champions if the season is eventually voided could have legal implications.

With the Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the world, football should be the last thing on anybody’s mind. The problem is that the future offers extreme uncertainty. Nobody knows when the Covid-19 crisis will run its course. In my opinion, the decisions that are made about how and when the football leagues could resume play, should be based on the policies of each country in terms of the health and care systems implemented by the state governments of those countries.

The situation of each country is different from others, and we cannot compare Iran with some other countries who have plans to resume the games as early as next month. Sports events cannot and should not be started until the breaking of the corona chain and the reduction of the number of infections.

The point that has received less attention about football is that there are a lot of conflicts and touches between players during the games, and this can increase the risk of transmitting the virus among them. We must be patient until the coronavirus pandemic is firmly controlled. 

Some important people in football have already spoken about why one team, namely Persepolis, cannot be declared champions of the Iran Professional League (IPL) if the season is voided. If, and it is a huge if, the season cannot be completed, then there is no way you can have a winner or loser.

Another option, which is my solution to this problem is to stop the league as it is in the current situation, with 21st weeks being played, and then resume the remaining nine weeks from the next season. 

Then, we will start the 2020-2021 season. In fact, with this plan, we should be able and ready to hold two and a half leagues in two years. 

The clubs will have more fixtures to play and a congested calendar meaning some teams often finding themselves playing once every three games. But in this way, the health of footballers and all the staff involved in football will not be endangered. Health is the most critical priority.

*Iranian member of the AFC’s Technical Study Group (TSG)

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