Football? People are dying, Kim


Throwback football is growing tired but if you’re expecting match days to return any time soon, you need to come back down to earth.

Despite how day-to-day life has changed for most people during this particular pandemic, as a work from home freelancer, my routine has remained much the same. Even if I was starting from another point, it’s likely my Tuesday morning would have been the same today. Each day starting the same: wearily opening my eyes and blindly groping above my head for my phone to see if I’ve missed any important messages.

A meme in the friend group WhatsApp, a photo of Swedish pastries from a friend missing her freedom and a direct message on Twitter from a women’s football friend. My eyes adjusted to the brightness of the screen as I tried to squint at what had been sent over. It was a forward of Molly Hudson’s tweet about social distancing at women’s football matches and it was accompanied by the, “Kim, there’s people that are dying” gif.

I couldn’t even laugh through the early morning muzz.

The lack of sport has left a chasm across all media outlets; column space and airtime fought over and put aside for football coverage and discussion left needing to be filled.


On the same day, Emmanuel Macron extended the lock down period for France, addressing the nation and admitting to the failings in dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak. A country with stricter rules in place that had been better adhered to by the public was being extended by a month. When we look at England, we see people wantonly disregarding the rules put in place, we see a curve that refuses to flatten and a death toll with no peak in sight.

As Rich Laverty – whose appearance on TalkSport prompted Hudson’s tweet – admits, we’re a long way off but football will return so we might as well be talking about how we might be able to keep our distance at football grounds. But to most, it’s pie in the sky, even to those of us who work within sport.

As the looped gif in my DMs is reminding me: people are dying. We’re already growing weary of the throwback football outlets have been peddling, desperate to fill the empty airtime. So yes, we want sport back, we want something new to talk about, line-ups to fret over and results to pick apart but maybe part of our problem is we’re still thinking we’re just around the corner from the end of all of this.

Football will return – the behemoth sport devoured around the globe can’t be stopped – we tell ourselves it will be sooner rather than later, that we can get back to what we consider normal life. Maybe it will be behind closed doors at first (as in Germany) but we can still watch it on tv.

But what of the 22 players on the pitch, the substitutes, the coaches and medical staff. The groundsmen, the officials, the media presence: every extra person who will have to travel to and from to ensure matches happen? Every person who could carry or contract COVID-19 and pass it along.

In other countries, maybe there’s room to talk about second and third tier women’s football with its embarrassingly low attendances and see it as an opportunity, but not in this one, not now. Social distancing and contact sports don’t go together, regardless of fans in the stands.


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