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The Ongoing Impact Of The World Health Crisis
There is no question that the majority of the world is still at a standstill. The COVID-19 world health crisis has continued to wreak havoc, with second waves of outbreaks, intermittent lockdowns, and general uncertainty.

The world of football, however, has attempted to get back to business, and results have been nothing short of controversial. After football was more or less put on pause for months, the various sporting organisations have again attempted to get the engines running.

But with empty stadiums, infected players, and endless other problems, can it really be a success while so many hurdles must be overcome?

World Cup Qualifying Challenges

The FIFA World Cup is set to take place in 2022, and most are accepting that the world will have returned to normal by then. But in the meantime, cases are still surging around the world, with second outbreaks being reported in numerous countries.
However, as these second outbreaks were making headlines, hundreds of footballers were setting off on thousand mile journeys around the world, looking to participate in FIFA qualifying matches. To be precise, 251 players were climbing aboard planes to head off and make their countries proud.

What made the situation significantly more alarming was that the countries involved in the initial round of matches were all also high on the list of surging infections. Liverpool, Everton, and various countries in South America were all visited, and the decission to allow the games to occur did not come without consequences.

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Safety Protocols

Of course, the players were not allowed to make these cross country trips without safety protocols in place. But, apparently, the safety measures were not enough.

Liverpool experienced infections on numerous occasions, prompting Jurgen Klopp, club manager, to express concerns. Players Sadio Mane and Thiago Alcantara both tested positive, forcing them to miss what turned out to be a devastating 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa. Soon afterwards Xherdan Shaqiri also tested positive, though, the result came only after he had landed in Switzerland. But this initial result was later cleared, with the initial result being called a false positive.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Football Association had problems of its own. After players landed in Paris, 2 players tested positive. But this shouldn’t have come as a surprise, given that the city had announced a maximum alert level shortly prior to the team landing.

International March Protocol

Both FIFA and UEFA announced Return to Play Protocols. As would be expected, these protocols had various hygiene guidelines and recommendations in place, intended to keep players safe. If the protocols have had much success is enormously debatable.
FIFA was quick to declare, however, that regulations demand that teams fulfil international obligations, such as being called to compete. Only under special circumstances would a team be allowed to refuse a call, a FIFA spokesperson clarified such as if quarantines or travel restrictions are in place.

How it all work out, and if the FIFA 2022 World Cup is a success remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure, the odds are good that the world of football is under serious pressure, and will be for some time to come.

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