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Know the (COVID-19) score

BY Flynn Sheehan

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema reacts at the end of La Liga soccer match between Betis and Real Madrid at the Benito Villamarin stadium in Seville, Spain, Sunday, March. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Miguel Morenatti)

Know the (COVID-19) score

By Flynn Sheehan
December 5, 2020

Liverpool forward and global superstar Mohammed Salah contracted COVID-19, joining a growing list of soccer players whose club involvement has been hindered by international matches. According to a tweet posted by the Egyptian National Football Team’s official account, Salah tested positive for COVID on Nov. 13 after arriving in Egypt prior to an international match against Togo.

Salah is just one of many players whose 2020 season has felt the varying effects of the global coronavirus pandemic that has brought the world to a standstill. There have been numerous clubs around the world this season facing massive complications with having players unable to participate in game-day action. These, caused by a combination of more frequent injuries as well as positive COVID -19 tests, have been a massive inhibitor to the success of countless football clubs.

Because of impacts the coronavirus has had on the world of football, having so many international matches intertwined with the club football is irresponsible and needs careful reconsideration and rescheduling.

Premier Injuries, an online database logging all injuries sustained in Premier League (England’s top-flight league), showcases just how many more injuries have occurred this season in comparison with previous years.

According to Premier Injuries, there have been 95 muscle injuries sustained by players at this writing in the Premier League. At the same time last season there were only 62 injuries. The season before that there were 39, and the one before that there were 51.

The spike in injuries is notable, and the key factor behind this would be the lack of a break between this season and last, as well as the frequent interjections of international games sprinkled in this season. It is clear that there are too many games being played in a short amount of time, resulting in more frequent and more damaging injuries this season.

One team, in particular, that has felt the effects of missing key players due to injury and the coronavirus is Liverpool. According to the Liverpool FC website, Anfield Online, the club has suffered nine combined injuries and COVID-19 diagnoses already this season. Seven of these are ongoing, and the reigning champions of the Premier League have a much tougher task in winning the league this season than last.

Data aside, a conversation with any soccer fan will reaffirm the notion that COVID-19 has had great effects on the 2020 footballing season. Leroy Sheridan, a life-long Chelsea supporter, explains in a phone interview that “COVID has undoubtedly taken a toll on lots of teams this season.”

Sheridan added, “Just take a look at any team. Liverpool, PSG, Barcelona, all of these top clubs are facing serious issues with injuries and positive results, and all of them are now underperforming in their leagues. There is definitely a correlation between these and the international breaks thrown into an already busy schedule.”

There is a duty that the FIFA governing body needs to modify its busy scheduling to ensure that teams do not fall short on their goals. Even more, FIFA owes it to the players to do everything in their control to ensure that no careers are cut short or individual’s opportunities are squandered simply by the needless packing of schedules for already-fatigued athletes.

As it stands, 2020 is exhausting enough.