Jhamal Tucker

Fri, 10 Jul 2020

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Time is an illusion. I’m not just saying that; theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli would back me up. In his book ‘The Order Of Time’ Rovelli argues that our perception of time are all wrong, based on his quantum calculations. Now, I’m not out to spark a scientific paradigm shift, I’m just saying, three months have passed since the shutdown of the world’s game. The weekly fix that we all crave had dried up and in light of what has been an epoch-making pandemic, we were forced to sit at home waiting and scratching (anywhere but our faces and washing our hands constantly). But, mercifully, the wait is finally over! 

The novel coronavirus (officially referred to as COVID-19) pandemic had ground the world to a halt, with some economies struggling to cope, employers laying off workers and governments advising their people to stay inside; not to mention the still rising death toll. And while football is upon us again, one can’t help but wonder, what the knock-on effects will be on football after all is said and done? How will this crisis contort the beautiful game in the foreseeable future? 

Summer of Football 

If every cloud indeed has a silver lining, then there is something to celebrate with these quickfire fixtures throughout June, July and August. Clubs implored their players to take the enforced break as their ‘holiday’ of sorts because this summer is set for an unusually cramped calendar. 

In the meantime, the other major leagues have committed to finishing their respective competitions within the next 8 -10 weeks, in an attempt to get back on track for the start of next season. What all this means is, instead of the obligatory vacation photos on Instagram, and the low-stakes pre-season friendlies that plague us in these barren months; we’ll be treated with high octane football for the next three months. Of course, this would be football without fans in the stadiums, which, admittedly feels a little less special – but is necessary.

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The Transfer Window 

The season is currently being played when the transfer window should be in full swing. Players on loan and were-to-be free agents tend to make their moves at the season’s end; and in these strange times, that is no longer May/June. Players will still be able to honour those terms in this extended season.

In today’s football, clubs and players are free to wheel and deal usually from June/July through to the end of August and again throughout January – that’s under ordinary circumstances. But the idea of playing the final stages of the season in the summer, may require some amendments to the transfer window, for one thing, its timing. In these dire times, leagues aren’t so much in control of their own fates, rather they are at the mercy of their respective governments and health authorities. 

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As it stands, FIFA is allowing players to sign for new clubs (whenever the window actually opens) but would be ineligible to play until the start of the 2020/21 season. So, a player moving from France; whose season is over, to England; whose season is in progress; can’t play until September when next season starts. FIFA further suggests that the customary 3-month (or 12 week) window can be split into two 6 week installments. That has not yet been decided but we can anticipate some reform to the way transfers are conducted, also whether it would be a catalyst for new regulations remains to be seen. 

And let’s not forget there is the clustered fixture list to navigate through for the rest of this season into the next. With a myriad of rescheduled competitions to sort out, it will require a bit of finagling to finish next season on time. 

Just as the world is facing uncertain times, the results of which are yet to be seen, so too are we unsure of what will become of the world’s game. Ultimately normalcy shall return, but the question is, will there be a new normal? How will this pandemic that has rendered the world unrecognizable, change the face of the beautiful game as we know it?

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