Legendary Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has branded playing matches behind closed doors as a “short-term” solution to getting football back on its feet following the coronavirus pandemic.
World football has ground to a halt since the middle of March, when the Covid-19 virus struck Europe, forcing the suspension of play in England, Germany, Italy and Spain, with the league in France ultimately electing to call a stop to the season.
Since then, the situation has begun to ease, with societies slowly opening back up after the apparent peak has passed.
Germany was able to get the Bundesliga back underway last weekend, while there are discussions ongoing as to when the Premier League will be able to restart, with government officials hopeful that a date in the middle of June will be achievable .
Given the situation, there is no prospect of football with crowds, but Wenger does not see this as a workable solution in the long term.
“You can’t imagine a whole season without fans,” FIFA’s chief of global football development told beIN Sport . “It’s why I think it’s a short-term solution.”
Wenger, who famously guided the Gunners to three league titles, including their famous ‘Invincible’ campaign during 2003-04, went on to explain that regardless of the situation on the field, the health of the players and society as a whole has to be the priority.
“We can’t be guided too much by financial reasons and take a big gamble,” he added. “We first have to make sure that it is medically safe.”
Several players have voiced their concerns over going back to play with the situation as it is currently in the UK, with Watford striker Troy Deeney outspoken on the subject.
“I’m not even talking about football at the moment – I’m talking about my family’s health,” Deeney said on Instagram . “If I feel that I’m not looking after my family, then I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to put my family at risk.
“What are they going to do, take money off me? I’ve been broke before so it doesn’t bother me. They’re talking about not playing in front of fans until 2021. So if it’s not safe enough for fans to be inside a stadium why should it be safe for players to be in there?”