Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta never wants to return to playing behind closed doors - ‘It is a different sport’

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta never wants to return to playing behind closed doors - ‘It is a different sport’
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  • Arsenal
    Arsenal
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Mikel Arteta
    Mikel Arteta
    Spanish association football player and manager

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has urged for football to not be played behind closed doors, describing such a situation as “a different sport”.

Currently, fans are able to attend matches in England, but that could change if the Government decides to tighten Covid-19 restrictions.

Covid-19 cases are rising in England and, while there are not expected to be more restrictions imposed before Christmas, the matches after Boxing Day are at risk of being impacted.

Clubs have already experienced football with no fans as the back end of the 2019/20 campaign, and basically the whole of last season, was played in empty stadiums.

And asked about his thoughts on the prospect of football going behind closed doors again, Arteta said: “Please don’t go back to that stage.

“We have experienced that and it is something that we don’t like, so hopefully it is not what happens.

“It’s a different sport and football is all about sharing it with people, and having fans around the stadiums.

“When it is not, it’s a completely different sport and the competition gets, I don’t know, lost. It’s not the same.

“We will play like we have to play. What I am saying is that obviously nobody wants to go back to where we were because we have already experienced it - and it is not something we enjoyed a lot.

“But if we have to carry on doing that, of course we will.”

There had been the potential for football to grind to a halt completely and have a circuit breaker to stop the spread of Covid-19 among squads.

Premier League clubs, however, decided earlier this week at a meeting to carry on playing for now.

Players and managers are due to meet on Thursday, though, to discuss the matter further and ahead of that Jordan Henderson has been voicing his concerns.

 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The Liverpool captain has said “nobody really takes player welfare seriously” and Arteta believes players need to be listened to more.

“I don’t have to agree or disagree, I think we have to listen to them,” said Arteta, when asked about Henderson’s recent comments.

“There are two protagonists here. One, there are the players and the other is the supporters.

“Without the players we can’t do anything, so we have to really listen to the players because they are the ones that have to be there.

“It is easy for us to be there and demand, and they (the players) are the ones that have to perform and they have to do it.

“It’s the same with the fans, because this industry wouldn’t work without any of those two. So I think we have to listen much more to our players.”

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