Despite the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic, efforts are being made to complete the main series as planned. Football has survived the epidemic amazingly well, writes HS sports journalist Ari Virtanen.
How the world and the coronavirus epidemic in Finland look different after seven months of fighting the virus.
In mid-March, Finland closed its shell and the operating conditions for sporting events ceased by the spring. That’s when I wrote on March 12 that “sports need to give way and be flexible because of the threat posed by the coronavirus”. On March 11, 60 new coronavirus infections had been reported in Finland.
The coronavirus has had a devastating effect on society. Sport has also been forced to adapt to new restrictions, regulations, recommendations and the changing epidemic situation. Financially and mentally, the year has been a difficult one.
Football The main series The National League and the Veikkausliiga began in June – July, when the Finnish epidemic had subsided to a lower level during the summer. Four months later, it can be said that football has managed to fight the coronavirus so far, even though the second wave has begun. In the open air, the risk is lower.
A total of almost 200 matches have been played in the Veikkausliiga and the National League. During the season, one player in one Veikkausliiga club has had a coronavirus infection and one match has had an exposure situation in the stands. Amazingly few have survived in football.
“In the spring, football learned how to act responsibly within teams and at match events,” the Football Association’s Development Manager Heidi Pihlaja says.
The activities of HJK’s Veikkausliiga team show how serious the virus has been. The representative team is divided into five locker rooms at Töölö Stadium, face masks are kept indoors and on bus trips, the team management watches that there are no more than fifteen minutes longer in the locker rooms and team meetings are held outdoors. Caution has been emphasized for players in their spare time.
“Veikkausliiga clubs have taken official regulations and health issues into account in a truly responsible manner and have done thorough work to ensure that operations are organized safely,” Aki Riihilahti says.
Chairman of the SJK Raimo Sarajärven according to must be happy about how carefully the clubs have worked.
“We do our best to get the season played as planned. Hopefully we will have a sporty winner. No club has demanded that the season end in the middle, ”says Sarajärvi.
RoPS Chairman Risto Nivan according to some clubs “most certainly” would be attracted by the idea of suspending the season. There would be sporting and financial reasons for that. Admittedly, a suspension would require a decision by the authorities or three-quarters voting in favor of the suspension.
Veikkausliiga The regular series ends at the end of October. After that, the top and bottom final series of five match rounds will be played in November. Another month and a half should be carefully dodged for the virus.
In Veikkausliiga, National League and Ykkönen matches, the virus is now combated by requiring spectators to wear a face mask. It is a small effort to avoid infections.
HJK – HIFK at Töölö football stadium at 16.00. Ruutu.fi is showing a match.