The A-League was one week too late

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The A-League was one of the last Australian sporting codes to suspend its season amidst the coronavirus pandemic – a move that should have been implemented much sooner.

The first major changes to the remainder of the 2019/20 A-League season saw fans no longer able to attend matches.

Additionally, Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix returned to Australia following their round 21 clash in New Zealand and self-isolated for two weeks before resuming regular play.

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These measures lasted a whole round until Football Federation Australia (FFA) announced on Tuesday the remainder of the season would be postponed effective immediately to reflect the State and Federal government border closures.

FFA conceded it would be impossible to continue the league with the strict social distancing rules in place, however, this should not have been the reason to cease the remainder of the season.

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The risk to players, officials and coaching staff should have determined the postponement.

Continuing the season on the basis there were not many rounds left was not a sufficient reason when so many lives were at risk within the A-League community.

This was the A-League’s chance to act as a role model, to put health and wellbeing above financial and entertainment reasoning, but they failed to take this opportunity.

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The A-League is not the sole sport who pushed for the season to be played as long as possible. The AFL and NRL, along with many companies and organisations across Australia, waited to implement stricter regulations to prevent the spread of the disease.

There were no known cases of COVID-19 in the A-League, but it should not have taken a diagnosis, or the greater risk of one, to initiate the changes.

Following the Phoenix and Victory match in NZ, the league had a major opportunity to set a standard other codes could follow and postpone the season.

This would have ensured sooner that all teams could remain in their state or country with their family and maintain their safety.

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Instead, Wellington were offered to fly into Australia and enter 14 days of self-isolation in the hope to continue their 2019/20 campaign in Australia.

A week in and the Kiwi side have spent their time in Australia for virtually no reason and will need to return back to NZ to again isolate.

Circumstances surrounding coronavirus will continue to change rapidly. The mindset to act on sudden regulation changes by the government, if they were implemented, should not have been a risk the A-League was willing to take.

Despite their delayed response, the A-League, like every other Australian sporting code, must now sit back and wait for a flattening of the curve and a COVID-19 vaccine.

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Tricia Mifsud
Covering Melbourne Victory during the 2019/2020 season. Bachelor of Media and Communications (Sports Journalism) at Latrobe University. Dedicated to writing articles that sports fans want to read.