Zeman writes for the Gazzetta: thus Covid has extinguished the passion

Zdenek Zeman writes for us: in his debut on Gazzetta.it he analyzes the effects of the virus on the world of football

With this article, Zdenek Zeman begins his collaboration with the Gazzetta dello Sport. Defined by many colleagues and players as “Maestro”, every week he will scan the football alphabet for us. In his first column “From A to Zeman” he chose a word that has sadly and dramatically become habitual not only in our daily life but also in sport.


One day when we will count, we hope definitively, the victims of Covid, we will have to add one, which is not made of flesh and blood, but is a part of each of us. And it’s called passion. Passion for what we love most and that the pandemic, lockdown, home confinement and distancing have prevented us from living freely. Will we be able to win it back, to return to the starting point? To rewind the tape and start it all over again? It has been a year since the word Coronavirus appeared in our lives, changing them. A year of suffering, fear, tears and problems. The world is living under a hood and that of sport has not been immune. Indeed I believe it was among the most penalized activities. Because what more than sport thrives on passion? I have always interpreted football as an incredible generator of emotions and passions, and my main goal as a coach has always been to entertain and give joy to those who came to see the game, always looking for the result through entertainment and respect for rules. For this reason, for me, football does not exist without the fans, who are the users. And what we are experiencing now can only be a parenthesis. Inside the stadiums it seems to be in an aquarium without fans in the stands, without joy, despair, noises, choirs, scarves and flags. The closed bars and the impossibility of meeting on the street and in the squares have removed the old dynamics that move football, the chatter between friends, the discussions, the teasing and the controversies. We always talk about the ball linked to the top championships of A and B but football, from the parish to games on the street with a deflated ball, remains first of all a great social and cultural aggregator. I fear that a year for children, from the smaller pitches to the youth sectors to football schools, without being able to play, train, experience the ball as a moment of sharing has led many young people to find other hobbies and pastimes. To close oneself perhaps in front of a computer and cell phone, to live digital relationships. A problem which perhaps we will pay the bill in the future in Italy and abroad, with a significant decline in youth participation. The championship we are experiencing this year cannot be defined as false, but it is certainly strongly conditioned by the pandemic. Just as the judgments must be conditioned. Applause and merit to those who have succeeded in finding a balance, consistency and concreteness amid great difficulties, but those who have not succeeded certainly have many alibis. It is difficult to judge clearly and to criticize in detail. Clubs, coaches and players have all been held back. It is not easy to live a season like this: between continuous checks, Covid cases that take away the availability of athletes at any moment and create discomfort, tension, distractions, worries. Think about how it is to prepare a race when the day before you had one or two cases, the alarm goes off, everyone has to be dabbed, the fears of those who fear they have contracted the virus or infected their families grow. Technicians are often forced to be psychologists too. The players are also afraid because perhaps not all teammates behave in the same way and with the same professionalism. To this we add the external factors because the athletes’ performance on the pitch cannot fail to be affected by the absence of the public, the applause, the whistles, the adrenaline that falls in an empty facility. Finally, the clubs: the budgets already in enormous suffering due to unhealthy management have in some cases known the coup de grace and in the last year we have chosen to play more not to fail than to achieve a sporting result or respect the public. Meetings, assemblies, management of TV rights, the need for advances on future revenues have characterized the daily work of presidents and managers. Without an immediate cash flow it is impossible to cover debts and pay back wages. Many presidents are more interested in this, perhaps creating new international competitions that can attract sponsors for the bigger clubs rather than the whole system. By acting selfishly. What to say? We hope this pandemic passes without leaving wounds that are impossible to heal and that all this discomfort can at least serve to understand the mistakes made. And to start again with healthier management. I hope so, but I struggle to believe it

April 2, 2021 (change April 2, 2021 | 10:22)



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