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Can the "safe bubble" theory restart sport?

The first plans on how to recover and manage the post-pandemic

Can the safe bubble theory restart sport? The first plans on how to recover and manage the post-pandemic

How and when will football restart? This is the question that everyone is asking right now: players, coaches, fans, clubs, leagues, federations, stakeholders. If on the one hand it is more than logical to block everything - with the exception of the Belarusian championship - at least until the end of the acute phase of the spread of the coronavirus, on the other it is undeniable that football can give everyone that boost of confidence that would help increase the hopes of getting out of what many already call "the greatest moment of crisis since the second post-war period".

There are questions as to how and also when, with federations and associations that try to study the estimates of the health institutions, the forecasts and the numbers concerning the pandemic peaks, that plan plans that go from A to Z in order not to lose the 2019-2020 season. The unpredictability of the virus, however, does not make the strategies of a world, the sports world, that is trying to get up again very simple. To date, the only certainty is the work of the leagues, which design and compose puzzles to ensure that we can return as soon as possible, always privileging health over all other interests.

Plan B of the Premier League 

The British would be among the most active in terms of planning. According to some sources, the federation has a plan to return to play in May, one to return to play in June, another for July. The solution that emerged from the last summits is based on two principles: isolated camps and the World Cup format. According to the Independent, the plan could be to create a mega television event - in the World Cup style - and play the remaining 92 seasonal games behind closed doors and in fields far from urban agglomerations. The Midlands could lend themselves perfectly to use, although at the moment the most viable solution is that of the National Football Center of St. George's Park

Like any important decision, there are negative and positive aspects. Among the positives there are certainly those related to the resumption of a football but above all economic activity - if we consider the experts, broadcasters and sports betting companies. There would be what many tabloids call "a big step towards a return to normal, as well as a significant psychological boost that the nation would have". Among the cons, however, there are certainly practical and moral aspects. Among the practical ones are the problems related to logistics, with all the people involved (players, staff, referees, but also officials, cameramen and television crews) who will have to be confined to "quarantine bases" to reduce the risk of contagion. The other side of the coin offers a more moral vision to deal with: football is obviously not considered an essential activity, but the same would presuppose the use of health staff which may instead be necessary elsewhere. And, considering the numbers of beds available in hospitals, if a player were to get hurt, where would he be treated? The Premier League would need a real private hospital.

The huge television contracts have somehow increased the pressure on the clubs, whose primary objective is to end the season. Precisely for this reason, the World Cup model - therefore with multiple matches within the same day concentrated in a rather limited place - represents a valid alternative. On the other hand, when there is still no certainty. The optimistic vision provides for a flattening of the contagion curve during the summer months and only then will it be possible to start playing. One thing, however, is certain: no plan will take off seriously without first having reliable tests that can guarantee the safety of an event.


The NBA solution

Even before these hypotheses left the offices of the Brunel Building in London, on the other side of the ocean there was already reasoning in this direction. Adam Silver and the NBA owners are looking for a solution to resume the regular season and assign the ring to a franchise. One of the solutions on the table is the creation of a safe "bubble", from which the Premier probably took inspiration.

The news comes from Brian Windhorst, ESPN's more than reliable pen. According to the American reporter, the project that would lead the National Basketball Association to resume operations involves the creation of this "bubble" in which to play teams in one or at most two cities, creating the necessary safety conditions. While in England there is still an aura of mystery about the "where", in the USA there are already 3 possible locations to start again: the first would be Las Vegas, which is already home to the Summer League and already prepared in terms of structures with Thomas & Mack Center, the Cox Pavilion and a possible field to be installed inside the huge hotels of the Strip, to have all the teams and professionals under one roof; the second option is the Bahamas, with hotels and resorts that could turn into an oasis to isolate everyone involved; the third option is the Midwest - moving in full to a university campus - one of the least COVID-19 cases in the United States.

Whether the American solution or the English solution is the one capable of leading the way to return to normal, precautions are an obligation and safety conditions will be a priority. From the Legacalcio offices, however, no signal leaks. Italy is the world epicenter of diffusion at this time and the critical issues to be overcome are much more impressive than in other nations. The cancellation hypothesis, according to the declarations of some Serie A presidents, cannot be excluded.