28 March 2020 – With the world currently in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, the football world is doing its bit to help in what is an unprecedented situation. Players are making donations in support of research and hospital treatment, clubs are offering their facilities and more than a few people are trying to bring smiles to faces at what is a testing time for everyone.
- More than 400,000 cases of Covid-19 around the world
- Planet football is doing what it can to fight the pandemic
- Players are helping to make lockdown more bearable for fans
FIFA.com reveals how the game is showing its solidarity.
Cristiano Ronaldo and his agent Jorge Mendes have given money to fund a number of intensive care units in Portugal, with the Northern Lisbon University Hospital Centre receiving two new units accommodating ten beds each and Santo Antonio Hospital in Porto a new unit of its own. The pair are paying for beds, ventilators and heart rate monitors.
Like many other players, Lionel Messi has also dug deep and donated €1m to Barcelona’s Hospital Clinic and to a hospital in Argentina. “Thanks to this donation, we can give better treatment to our patients with Covid-19,” said Josep M. Campistol, the director and CEO of the Hospital Clinic. Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola, Messi’s former coach at Barcelona, has donated €1m of his own to the Barcelona-based Angel Soler Daniel Foundation.
Whatever it takes
Some big gestures are being made in England too, with most of the country’s professional clubs giving money to charity and some working closely with the National Health Service (NHS), among them Arsenal and Watford. The Gunners are making staff cars and drivers available to health workers, while the Hornets have offered the use of their stadium to the NHS.
The Korea Republic Football Association (KFA) have taken a similar approach, making their training centre in Paju – just north of the capital, Seoul – available to the country’s health services. Since Wednesday it has been receiving coronavirus patients who do not have serious symptoms. The entire KFA staff also donated blood last week to help build up supplies, which have been running low.
Elsewhere, Denmark and Paris Saint-Germain striker Nadia Nadim made a meaningful announcement. Having divided her time between playing for club and country and studying medicine, she is willing to lend her services to the fight against the pandemic.
“My older sister is a doctor and my two younger sisters are both nurses,” she explained on PSG’s Twitter account. “They’re working every day and I want to be there too. If the situation gets worse and they need doctors, I’m definitely going to step forward. If things get really, really bad, I’ll put on my white coat and go and help some people.”
Football is also showing its solidarity in a number of other ways, with many players following the advice of the World Health Organisation and their governments by self-isolating. In doing so, they have been setting an example for their fans and entertaining them in some inventive ways.
In taking part in the #StayAtHomeChallenge, also known as the #ToiletPaperChallenge, footballers around the world have been showing their creativity on social media to amuse and impress their followers in equal measure.
Germany and Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has even launched his own challenge on Instagram: the #TonisHomeChallenge. Every day he shows off a piece of skill and asks his fans to send in videos of them doing it. He then picks a winner and puts their video up on his account. At the end of the challenge, he will be giving a prize to one of the winners.
Players also need to stay in shape during this period of confinement, which is why the likes of Bayern Munich are organising online training sessions, which the whole squad has to follow from home.
The players are filmed doing their routines and the videos shared on social media. Some teams are even giving their fans the chance to train with them. Take Olympique Lyonnais Féminin, for example, who are posting daily videos of their players presenting a drill and passing on tips.
Players and fans are also passing the time by playing video games, with eSports tournaments being organised all over the world.
Last Sunday saw La Liga hold its very own FIFA 20 competition, with 18 of Spain’s 20 top-flight clubs taking part, each of them represented by one of their players. Marco Asensio won the title for Real Madrid, beating Aitor Ruibal of Leganes in the final. Nearly 170,000 people followed the matches and €180,000 was raised for the fight against Covid-19.
Involving no fewer than 128 clubs, Ultimate Quaranteam is another international competition raising funds to tackle the disease. Manchester City, Ajax Amsterdam, Roma are all taking part along with French club Nantes, who are represented by none other than Bruce Grannec, the two-time FIFA eWorld Cup winner.