The A-League should have been suspended indefinitely   

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FFA failed to act as a leader by not suspending the A-League and in turn, have put the health and well being of all involved at risk.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently revealed a range of new restrictions and advice designed to combat the spread of coronavirus, including a ban on all non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people.

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But football is exempt and the government refused to tell sporting codes to shut down, leaving the decision in the hands of the FFA, and they have once again failed to set the precedent.

They had the opportunity to put the health and well being of the players, staff, and all involved first, but instead of shutting down the A-League indefinitely FFA announced the decision to proceed with the remaining six rounds.

Thirty matches will be played behind closed doors and suppressed into a four-week period with shorter turnarounds in between matches – a decision on the finals series has yet to be made.

Playing sport behind closed doors has traditionally been used as a punishment and FFA’s ruling seems more like a punishment than anything else.

Football without its fans is nothing and not only that, evidence from sporting competitions around the world suggests that it is only a matter of time before somebody involved in our game catches the virus.

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FFA showed their incompetence by advising the nine state and territory member federations to suspend all forms of local football games, including training but not the nations flagship A-League competition.

Nobody wants to play football in the midst of a global pandemic, especially if you are one of the only leagues around the world doing so.

Amongst the confusion, Wellington Phoenix has been forced to play the remainder of their matches in Sydney because of New Zealand and Australia’s strict self-quarantine measures on all arrivals.

The Phoenix and Melbourne Victory will also not be able to participate in the A-League for the next two weeks because of their last tie in New Zealand.

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Across the league, players have been given strict protocols to follow, which amount to voluntary isolation away from their teammates and immediate family.

They have also been told to arrive at training grounds at certain times and try to avoid any interaction with the public unless absolutely necessary.

Before the FFA announcement to proceed with fixtures, Wellington coach Ufuk Talay hoped that common sense would prevail and the league be suspended – thus, proving that not even those involved in the game wanted it to continue.

Now his players and staff have to endure the burden of being away from their loved ones for over a month and the fear of contracting coronavirus.

That fear was evident across Europe before the various leagues were suspended.

Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp summed up the febrile atmosphere at the game’s top when he snapped at his own supporters for stretching their arms towards him in hope of a handshake.

The fact of the matter is that the A-League is only going ahead to satisfy the contractual demands of broadcaster Fox Sports – whose current $60m a year deal expires in 2023.

Health and safety should have been paramount in this situation but instead, the league continues as the imminent impact of the virus moves closer.

Liverpool’s legendary manager from the 1970s, Bill Shankly, once said: “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.”

In this case, he is mistaken.

Feature image credit: Melbourne City

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Euan James
Lover of all things football. Covering Adelaide United in 2019/20 for TFS!