Cancel Euro 2020, football is nothing without fans12 March 2020 | 13:04 | Deutsche Welle
Breel Embolo hit his first-time shot sweet and true, the ball curling past Cologne keeper Timo Horn to keep Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga title race.
The Swiss striker wheeled around and cupped his hands to his ears, but no one was listening — apart from a handful of teammates and club officials. The fans weren't there to share his joy and the emotion evaporated.
After the last few days viewing football matches played in front of empty stadiums, it's clear this can't be European football's definitive answer to the global coronavirus outbreak.
European leagues should be immediately postponed, international friendlies canceled, and the upcoming European Championships rescheduled for 2021.
Continuing in this current form is senseless. Match-going fans are the lifeblood of the game, no matter where you travel in the world.
No fans, no fun
This isn't football. One or two matches behind closed doors is palatable, at a stretch, but the remainder of the season? No, thank you.
DW's Janek Speight
DW's Janek Speight
The Bundesliga's Matchday 26 is due to be played entirely behind closed doors, joining Italy's Serie A in shutting out fans. From a health perspective, this makes sense, but without the fans, what's the point in playing at all?
Dortmund's derby with Schalke will be without fans, and Union Berlin fans won't have the chance to celebrate their first home Bundesliga game against Bayern Munich. It's weird for match-going fans, TV viewers, and players.
Furthermore, it's already clear that playing behind closed doors won't guarantee that fans won't gather in large crowds regardless. Gladbach fans celebrated their team's derby win afterwards outside the stadium, while PSG fans lit plenty of flares as the team bus made its way to the stadium.
"It's very hard for the players to bring everything onto the pitch without the fans," former Bundesliga coach Friedhelm Funkel said on Sky Germany.
But it makes no difference to business, particularly in regards to television broadcasting contracts. And that's where football's governing bodies, from national to international level, are getting blinded from taking appropriate action that is bordering on highly irresponsible.
UEFA must stand up
Football is certainly not the most important thing to consider in the conversation around the coronavirus, but given it's important position in society, particularly in Germany where fans have a say in how their clubs are run, missing out on a beloved hobby on a weekly basis becomes unthinkable.
But postponing leagues, in the hope of replaying them in the months to come, is just common sense. It would reduce the immediate risk of the virus spreading through large sporting crowds and would also ensure the emotions so intrinsic with football aren't cast away like needless commodities.
After all, who really wants to see their team win a big derby, a Champions League knockout game or even a trophy in front of an empty stadium? Some probably couldn't care less, but they are unlikely the ones turning up week in, week out to support their club.
Halting leagues, with the view of restarting in a month, or two, pending advice from health authorities, is the sensible decision. Canceling the European Championships and playing it out in 2021 would help make that happen.
It's time for UEFA to take a stand. Otherwise football will lose its connection with the one thing that makes it so special around the world — namely its fans. And where's the fun in that?
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