The Independent Student Newspaper of Ashoka University

The Return of Football – has the wait been worth it?

By Rahul Agarwal, UG22

“Football without fans” has been a major topic of debate these last few months. But have you ever thought of it from the other way round? What are fans without football? Ask any football fan you know, and you’ll receive the same answer. Phrases like “It’s like you’ve been robbed of your reason to live” and “There is no purpose in life now” become the motto for a lot of fans in these testing times we find ourselves in. Overtime, Football has become a basic amenity for a lot of us. Watching or playing are the only ways to engage with the sport. And if you think watching past games is enough(or “classic matches” as they like to call it), it’s not even close. If people can start watching the Belarusian League during these turbulent times, think of what they’d be willing to give for just a few precious minutes of Premier League or La Liga action.

Fans all over the world had been waiting anxiously for the return of top-flight football and their prayers were answered close to the end of May. The Bundesliga was the first league that took the risk of resuming sport. One can say that it paid rich dividends, as it opened the gates for the other leagues to do the same. There are naturally strict rules to be followed but those have been overshadowed by the excitement and joy of the fans, at least from the fans’ perspective. The announcements regarding the return of La Liga on 11th June and Serie A on 20th June surely got a lot of fans overly excited. What put them over the top, though, was “Project Restart” – the return of the most loved league all over the world, the English top-flight, the Premier League. And of course, who better than Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp to comment on it. “I always said we don’t want to rush anything, but I don’t think it is rushed. I hope that we are now in England on the right side of the thing. It’s all about when — but you need to re-open different parts of life again,” Klopp told Liverpool’s website. All the measures taken until now have been spot on. Teams started in small numbers with no contact training and then increased the numbers gradually. The sessions are now in full flow while players and staff are undergoing weekly tests as well. The initial results did reveal a few alarming positive cases including that of Bournemouth’s goalkeeper, Aaron Ramsdale, and several staff members of various clubs, but the latest round has confirmed that there remains no positive case among all the players and staff that were tested. Masks and regular sanitization are mandatory for now and any sort of unnecessary contact is recommended to be avoided. Social distancing is also encouraged whenever possible. Otherwise, fans can take solace in the fact that several things are the way they were before.

The return of football has the sort of significance, not even a football fan can describe promptly, let alone the uninterested part of the population. If fans have literally ‘suffered’ due to the suspension of football these past 3 months, it’s only fair to imagine what the players themselves must have gone through. But fear not, because it is back now and as a huge fan, I personally can’t wait for the Premier League to return, especially with the schedule suggesting at least one match will take place on every day of the week!

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