The covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc across the world. Apart from hospitalizing and killing millions of people, the novel virus affected people’s daily activities. One of the sectors greatly affected is sports. Governments and sporting organizations moved to cancel sporting events and sporting activities during the early days of the virus. The huge concern for most authorities is the amount of physical contact at most sporting activities, which puts many people at the risk of infection. The most significant blow was perhaps the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which the Japanese deferred by 12 months. As things slowly move back to normalcy, football clubs are at the forefront of enforcing Covid-19 measures to ensure the players’ safety and the fans at sporting events.
The NFL and NFLPA kicked off the season in July 2020. They put up strict surveillance and mitigation measures during games and travel time. Some of the efforts put in place are mandatory masking, frequent hand washing, regular testing of players, and restricted access. There are staff members with the ability to contact trace through the help of proximity devices. Players wear the apparatus when in the club environment. The devices record the interaction time between people 6 feet from one another. When a player tests positive, the staff uses the data to identify contacts in the club and outside.
To limit the infection rate during training periods, players come in wearing their kit, and the staff disinfects the equipment in personal protective equipment. They leave about three parking spaces between their cars for distancing purposes, and the club discourages them from meeting in communal areas. Training is in small groups to contain contact among team players. Clubs also restrict activities in the changing rooms. For example, players avoid eating in the changing room, dispose of their plasters, bandages, paper handkerchiefs appropriately, and secure their items from contamination. According to the safety protocols, the players should not swap shirts, share water bottles, hug or shake hands.
The nature of football makes it challenging to comply with some regulations. For example, goal celebrations are difficult to enjoy without breaking the COVID-19 safety protocols. They involve a lot of hugging and yelling, which puts players at risk. Referees are in charge of reminding the players of the right way to conduct themselves. The protocols also have reasonable exceptions. For example, the only time players can stay without masks is; when warming -ups, playing, walking to and from the pitch, and during interviews before and after the match. When the club has a positive case, they make it known to the others and enforce an intensive protocol. Payments are also mainly cashless, thanks to pioneers like Chris Norminton, Sporting Pay Limited’s managing director. Players and fans can safely make transactions.
Bodies concerned with sporting events revise the mitigation measures continually regarding incoming data and the COVID-19 situation in the country. Contact tracing procedures are also more accurate and efficient. With such robust protocols in place, it is unfair that the fans are not fully back to the scene. Fans play a huge role in the football liveliness and economic sector.