football is different, but its back - and that's all that matters.
A few months ago I wrote about football without the 12th player - the fans. This was back when the world of football had woken up to the realities of the pandemic and stadiums closed their doors on the fans. It was also when a game as big as Dortmund v PSG looked and sounded like a local all age game up the road. No fans, just the sounds of the ball being passed between players and the yells for the ball. No crowds or chanting, we saw football back to its basics and to be completely honest, I didn't like it.
Each football association around the world has had their own challenges, but the Bundesliga was the first of the European football leagues to return, and they have set the tone for the return of football around the world. On the eve of the return of the English Premier League and the recent come-back of La Liga, let's take a look at how much the game has actually changed in this 'new normal.'
Some of the most extreme changes you will see include quarantine periods for players, as well as regular corona testing, staggered warm ups, all substitutes wearing masks on the bench, disinfecting of the match ball and the team turning up in not one, but multiple buses on game day. Not to mention - crowd attendance of around 50-80,000 fans per game (depending on the club) - to 0 fans - only coaches, players and those affiliated with the clubs. In general, the new normal in football is completely devoted to social distancing, and while necessary, its a huge contrast from the world we knew before.
With all this social distancing, naturally, the goal celebrations will change too. “...Players are not supposed to be hugging team-mates after scoring right now. While that rule hasn't always been followed in the Bundesliga - sometimes the emotion of scoring has proved too much - many players are getting creative with how they mark a goal. The standout example was Erling Haaland's celebration after scoring for Dortmund against Schalke on the opening weekend, with his dance routine and team-mates stood at a distance making for an iconic image.” (Source: Sky Sports)
La Liga have implemented changes in two main areas: virtualisation of stands and fan audio as well as new camera positions and the images they will offer to viewers. These changes are needed - an improvement on the silence and empty stadium of pandemic football. “We have made these broadcasting changes so fans can enjoy La Liga,”said La Liga President Javier Tebas.“We work with global partners to offer a great viewer experience. We are in an exceptional situation, but for us, it has been important to be able to adapt and offer a compelling, cutting-edge broadcast to our fans.” The entertainment side of football is still one of the most important, and this is essential to see our favourite game continue to thrive.
Football is different, but its back - and that's all that matters. It will be some time before we can enjoy the game the same way we used to. I guess I'm just glad I got to see Liverpool play at Anfield last year and feel the passion of La Liga so many times, because it may be a while before we can experience something like that again.
What do you think of the changes to the sights and sounds of football? Leave and comment, let's discuss!
Photo credit: Getty Images | Martin Meissner