Coronavirus Fears: Domestic and International Issues

Ban on Handshakes

The FAI starting from today have announced that they will follow in the footsteps of the Premier League and ban the traditional handshakes at the beginning of all football matches in the Republic of Ireland. The measure comes following recommendations from the world health organisation to minimise the spread of the Covid-19 virus. A statement from the Association today read, “The Football Association of Ireland has today issued a directive to all affiliates instructing them that players are not to shake hands with their opponents or match officials at all games under FAI jurisdiction.

“The FAI decision, following on from a UEFA directive for their competitions, comes into effect immediately and will remain until further notice across all games in the Republic of Ireland.

“The FAI medical team remain in communication with the Department of Health and will follow all government recommendations regarding coronavirus.”

Play-off Worries

With Ireland set to play Slovakia in their upcoming Euro 2020 playoff game the coronavirus has left many questions to be answered. Will the game be cancelled? Played behind closed doors? In todays press conference the FAI announced that after contact with the Irish government, UEFA and Slovakian authorities “as of today, Monday, the game is scheduled to go ahead as planned”

The Slovakian Football Association has said they will fully respect any potential decision by the country’s health officials in relation to playing the Euro 2020 play-off semi-final with the Republic of Ireland behind closed doors. In an update issued this afternoon, the Slovakian footballing body said they will cooperate with all guidelines for the game on Bratislava.The SFA added they are monitoring the situation and will make a decision when necessary.

But with over 2000 Irish fans having bought tickets, and many more expected to make the trip, what does this mean for the Irish fans? In the event of the game being played behind closed doors, fans will receive a full refund on tickets .

The FAI will continue to heed the advice of the Irish government and UEFA in relation to this game. Any news around the fixture will be relayed to staff and supporters as soon as it becomes available.

Game Called Off?

I think it’s safe to say that wether the game goes ahead as normal or it’s played behind closed doors there will still be hundreds of Irish fans traveling to Bratislava for the game. So for this reason, is it a possibility that the game could be called off altogether? Well with three confirmed cases in Slovakia to date, an increase in the numbers could see the game postponed to a later date. All serie a games have been cancelled in Italy while the whole country has been placed on lockdown. Irish people have recently been informed that all St. Patrick’s day parades have been cancelled as mass gatherings of over 1000 people are to be avoided.

A statement released late Monday night announced that all municipal facilities in Bratislava will remain closed until further notice. Starting from the 10th of March, “it is forbidden to hold any sporting, cultural and social events for 14 days”. This makes it almost inevitable that the game will be played without fans.

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