FC Midtjylland midfielder and Finland national team captain Tim Sparv has praised UEFA’s decision to delay the European Championships by a year in wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
As a measure of precaution to help prevent the drastic increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, UEFA announced yesterday they have moved the Euros- which was set to take place this summer- to the summer of 2021.
The virus has seen footballing schedules all over the continent disrupted, with all five of Europe’s top leagues suspended for the foreseeable future.
The Premier League’s current suspension timeline would see action return on the first weekend of April, but with the number of cases both in the UK and all over Europe on the rise, that return date seems extremely optimistic.
What is now next summer’s European Championship delayed start time might allow some of European leagues to resume and hopefully finish at around mid to late June at the latest, though there has been discussion about scrapping some league campaign’s entirely.
However, speaking to Love Sport Breakfast, Finland captain Tim Sparv stressed how football is very much an afterthought in the midst of what is an increasingly worrying situation.
“I think it would have been irresponsible to play this summer. I’m just happy that football has taken responsibility to try and do their part in a situation like this. People’s health should be everyone’s number one priority. I’m glad that UEFA took a very good and wise decision yesterday.”
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Sparv, currently plying his trade for Danish outfit FC Midtjylland, told Love Sport how Denmark are reacting to the worldwide pandemic.
“I think Denmark has tried to break the chain of infection in a very early stage, it’s been a very fast response to the virus outbreak; last week they shut down schools and kindergartens. From today cafes and restaurants are closing as well so it’s definitely impacting people’s lives, more businesses losing money etc so it’s a tough time out there."
The Finnish midfielder discussed the impact footballers can have on the masses when it comes to sending out the right message in a time of crisis like this: “I think that any professional athlete has the chance to influence society, I really like when a footballer uses their platform for something bigger than football you know.
“In these times every time when somebody tweets or posts something about the common sense that is required right now, the basic hygiene that is required, people not going to parties you know, staying at home for the foreseeable future, if they can convey that message to the people then it’s effective because people usually listen to footballers when their trying to say something.”
The prospect of playing the Euro’s behind closed doors was a potential reality, though UEFA, in Sparv’s opinion, wisely opted against it. He did concede playing with no spectators around may have to be the route taken when it comes to completing the domestic seasons however.
“I don’t think it’s a great alternative, we’ve already had a few games in Denmark where we played in front of an empty stadium and it’s not a great experience for us either but it could be a short term solution to maybe get the season over with somehow.
“I think we all want the fans there, the fans need to be there, it generates income for the clubs, especially the smaller clubs in Europe who are in desperate need of that financial boost so it might be a short term solution but long term we want it to feel like a real football game with fans in the stadium.”
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