At the height of its 55 members, UEFA, the organization of European football, is an old colossus born in 1954. At the feet of clay when it comes to running its members in the same direction. From the Atlantic to the Urals, from Iceland to Israel (1), via Portugal or Kazakhstan, football bells do not ring at the same rate. Enough to give drone to the discreet Aleksander Ceferin, who replaced Michel Platini at the head of the organization. At the beginning of April, the Slovenian confessed “Have nightmares every night” at the idea of the calendar of the final stages of the 2019-2020 European Cups interrupted in March, and which he intends to organize in August.
In the European landscape, only one man has never changed since the explosion of the pandemic. Belarussian Democrat President Alexander Lukashenko says the coronavirus remains “Grippette” (sic) which does not justify confinement or stopping of the championship. For all other European sports and political officials, the decision whether or not to put the studs on the players’ shoes took the place of a puzzle.
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In Jacobin France, it was the Prime Minister’s speech on April 28 before the national representation that finally sounded the death knell for the short season. In federal Germany, it took a compromise between the Länder and the Chancellery to achieve a recovery this weekend.
Sport, a national competence like health or school
Relatively spared by the Covid 19, Germany announced very early its intention to relaunch the championship as soon as possible. Conversely, the Netherlands, also moderately affected by the epidemic, just as early declared their desire to leave the stadiums closed. “These differences are in fact fairly representative of national cultures and the functioning of the European Union: as with health or education, sport is a national competence. Each State implements its own sports policy, as well as its health policy ”, explains William Gasparini, professor of sports sociology at the University of Strasbourg (1).
With the exception of the Belarusian epiphenomenon, the European football continent is divided into three categories. There are the red countries like France or the Netherlands, which have definitely drawn the curtain of their national competitions. Oranges like Spain, England and Belgium have suspended their championships, hoping for a recovery. As for the Greens, Portugal, Turkey, Serbia and Italy, they have put the players back into training and plan to resume in late May or early June.
Germany, head of the green zone
With its matches scheduled for this weekend, Germany leads the green battalion. We will replay on Saturday May 16 at 3:30 p.m. on behalf of the 26e Bundesliga day, behind closed doors, in stadiums with a maximum of 300 people (players, journalists, security personnel). With the respect of the barrier gestures before and after the match, but not … during, the safety distance then having no meaning. Other rules have been adapted to the health situation: five replacements instead of the usual three will be possible, for example, and video arbitration will be suspended.
All this will take place under the worried eyes of the health authorities, who will not hesitate to close the ban in the event of contamination within the stadiums. But especially under the eye of the cameras whose images will allow this economy not to be stopped. “This is the great paradox of football which is both a Europeanized activity under the control of each state and at the same time a completely private organization with its own rules and economic logic”, continues William Gasparini.
A world apart, with its own laws and its own geography. “European televised matches create a mental map and an imagined community, completes William Gasparini. In field surveys on the relationship to Europe of certain young people from the working-class districts of Strasbourg, Europe is above all the Champions League, the Euro and UEFA. And they are convinced that Turkey is already a member of the European Union. “