To play or not to play?

Gabigol mistakes an underground casino for a restaurant (pic: Imago Images)

Should the show go on while a pandemic rages?

There is an awful covid situation unfolding in Brazil right now and there is much debate (and many lawsuits) about whether the football should continue. I can see arguments for and against, although the arguments against seem stronger to me.

Arguments for:

Football has been one of the few constants for me and millions of others during the pandemic (yes, games not the same with no fans, but watching your team week in week out is better than nothing – mental health and entertainment are important); players get tested all the time; football on TV can encourage people to stay at home; football worked in Europe even during covid peak; economic reasons, to help keep clubs afloat.

Arguments against:

Brazil isn’t Europe (it is much bigger, which requires more travel, covid tests are allegedly less accurate and it has fewer resources to control things); fans gather outside stadiums; team travel hours by bus (in confined space which virus loves); doubtful accuracy of covid tests means higher chance of players transmitting the disease; the situation in Brazil is very bad and getting worse.

Ultimately, of course, the solution to the pandemic and current situation in the country does not depend on whether football continues or not. It relies on sensible public policy, set by the government, which in Brazil has been hopeless. State responses have been okay – but consistency and guidance from the top have been non-existent.

The bottom line: while football goes on, we should enjoy the show. But we also wish the good people of Brazil all the best (while scratching our heads, slightly bemused, as to why they picked a guy like Bolsonaro to be their leader).

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