Football pundit slams resumption of Turkish leagues
Amid plans to resume play next month, virus still poses danger to players, coaches, referees, ball boys, says Mert Aydin
Turkish football is set to return next month even though the coronavirus pandemic is still being felt, but the move frightens some football workers, according to one sports pundit.
"Football players are anxious" about resuming football, Mert Aydin told Anadolu Agency. "They’re scared of contracting the coronavirus and they’re right. Head coaches, referees and ball boys are also frightened."
Aydin criticized the Turkish Football Federation’s (TFF) decision to restart top-tier Super Lig competitions on June 12.
The federation also said that the second-tier TFF First League will begin soon after, on June 19.
In March the pandemic forced Turkey to suspend nationwide competitions.
Nihat Ozdemir, the federation’s head, said on May 16 that they had alternative plans to decide the fate of the Super Lig this season.
Ozdemir said that they could resume league matches in mid-July if conditions worsen in Turkey.
But Aydin stressed how many head coaches are of an age that makes coronavirus especially risky for them, as people over 60 face increased risk if they contract the virus.
"Those without any symptom of the virus have families and elderly relatives,” he said.
"The football body can't handle this problem, to avoid players having any physical contact or handshakes. It's impossible to get over the eight-match process without any problem," Aydin said.
"If a player gets the flu, it can spread to the whole team," he explained adding that coronavirus is a much greater threat than the flu.
- UEFA and money
"Why do the leagues [in Europe] want to resume? It's obvious. Because football means serious money," Aydin said, pointing to the cash flow from sponsors and TV rights.
"Why do they want to start now? The reason is UEFA. European football's governing body says 'Just complete the leagues by August.' UEFA thinks that the clubs will somehow finish seasons, and it will start the UEFA Champions League and Europa League season in September."
UEFA chief Aleksander Ceferin has been planning to end the 2019-2020 season, including UEFA competitions, by the end of August.
"We have an idea, but we have to wait for the executive committee of UEFA to confirm the dates," Ceferin said, referring to a key UEFA meeting set for June 17.
"I can say that the European season will be finished, if everything is as it is now, in August," Ceferin added.
Aydin said that the suspended leagues will play the current season in September or October.
"With this decision, UEFA is protecting its own benefits rather than the European countries and clubs."
In March, UEFA put the 2019-2020 Champions League and Europa League fixtures on hold, moving the EURO 2020 to summer 2021 for health reasons.
- Different path for Netherlands, France
The Netherlands and France, however, both chose to end their leagues early.
There will be no champions in either the Dutch premier league Eredivisie or second-tier Keuken Kampioen Divisie, and none of the leading clubs in these leagues will be named 2020 champs.
Paris Saint-Germain were declared 2020 winners in France, as the Ligue 1 Conforama was ended last month.
However the German premier league, the Bundesliga, resumed without fans in stadiums on May 16 after being suspended in March.
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