Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Send him off, Ref, he’s standing too close!


THE lockdown, imposed by the party formally known as Conservative, is expected to be relaxed some time this year, though strict social distancing measures will apparently continue.

Strange, then, to read that the football season is likely to start again soon. Project Restart (such a catchy name) brought together officials from the big clubs to talk to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden about finishing the English Premier League season. June 8is the date they’re looking at for the first matches.

So, as the rest of the country continues to survive under house arrest, with any visits into the open air shrouded under a haze of paranoia about being caught, shopped and/or fined, footballers can return to play a sport that requires contact, i.e. less than two metres apart.

Not only are the government talking about certain sports being allowed to resume (I doubt if it will be all sports, just those that generate more revenue) but they are also looking at schools reopening, with head teachers marking June 1 as a realistic possibility.  A good number of the working population, though, will continue under lockdown. The huge hospitality sector is named as being one of the last to open.

Let me see if I have this right. The government trusts footballers and young children to stay more than two metres away from each other yet it believes that those who work in the hospitality sector cannot be trusted to organise their businesses in such a way as to respect the measures. 

The main problem I’ve had with this lockdown from the start is its inconsistency and arbitrariness. Some businesses can remain open and many others can’t. To me, that says the government trusts some people and not others. That doesn’t sit right with me.

If football does return on June 8, no doubt matches will be played behind closed doors. They couldn’t possibly have cheering, excited fans standing shoulder to shoulder, what with the risk of the virus spreading, while watching professional footballers crunch into each other. No, that would be irresponsible. I am interested to know, though, how the hell can you socially distance on a football pitch? Will the referee blow his whistle for a foul if a player goes within two metres of another? As one of my free speech acquaintances said to me the other day, maybe they could line them up like a giant table football team and someone can flip the bars from the side of the pitch, ensuring that the handles are cleaned appropriately at half time.

It’s impossible for footballers to adhere to the measures the government expects of the rest of the country and it’s impossible to police children at schools and colleges to stay the required distance from each other. Unless the rest of the country is allowed to follow suit quickly this lockdown will be seen for what it has always been – ridiculously unfair.  

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Michael Fahey
Michael Fahey
Michael Fahey is a social conservative and mental health carer.

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