As COVID-19 continues to spread at a fast pace, unprecedented measures are being taken all around the world to maintain global order. It is a time that no industry can survive alone and unity among all stakeholders is a must to prevail. Unfortunately, the latest statements from the chairpersons of the Süper Lig clubs show that there is no unity in their response to COVID-19. After the postponement of the Süper Lig, Football Clubs Association Chairman Mehmet Sepil said playoffs could be arranged to resolve the league. On the other hand, Galatasaray Chairman Mustafa Cengiz told journalists that playoffs were not discussed in the association’s meeting. Considering other contradictory statements, it is clear that all chairpersons have a different opinion on the matter. Nevertheless, meetings are conducted to reach a consensus and to act swiftly in times of crisis, not to conduct the discussion in public. It is now time for all Süper Lig clubs to understand the magnitude of the crisis and act collectively to plan the future.
First of all, I think it is meaningless to talk about playoffs at the moment, as the near future is completely unpredictable for all of us. We are facing an enemy that we have never seen before, and there is naturally no research on how the virus acts in the long-term. Given the high infection rate and the fact that none of us have immunity, all we can do is to slow down the spread of the virus. Thus, under these circumstances, it makes no sense to say that leagues can start again on April 17. As Beşiktaş Chairman Ahmet Nur Çebi pointed out in an interview, the decision to set April 17 as the restart date is only a wish, as the situation is not in our control.
Right now, it is time for Süper Lig clubs to develop strategies on how to survive without football for months. To say that everything will return to normal in summer and we will move on as if nothing happened, unfortunately, is not true, but it seems like most of the chairpersons believe that is the case. For instance, the experts now warn about possible permanent lung damage, which would severely reduce an athlete’s ability to do high-intensity sports. However, even if everything returns to normal in summer, there will be a huge mess to organize as the usual schedule of football is gone. It is possible that players will not train together for months and will lose a significant amount of muscle mass.
The only goal Süper Lig clubs should have at the moment is creating plans for all possible scenarios, especially for the worst ones. The Turkish Football Federation and the Ministry of Youth and Sports would follow the advice of clubs if it results in unanimity. They need to act quickly and with great precision to prepare Turkish football for the times of the coronavirus. There is no time left for hostility.
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