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Coronavirus | Not the first global health crisis to impact football

At a time when the entire world is on a standstill, here we will look at other health diseases that have impacted football in the past!

Last updated: 17.04.2020
Coronavirus Not the first global health crisis to impact football | Sports Social Blog

Not many sports possess a rich history as do football. Its origin stretches back to the twelfth century. Gaining acceptance throughout the masses, football is, in fact, the most popular sport in the world. But in the wake of the spread of COVID-19 disease, all the major footballing competitions are suspended around the world. The Coronavirus pandemic has practically locked the human race inside their houses. In order to stop the spread of the lethal virus, avoiding social gatherings and meetings is the need of the hour. Amidst all this, it has also upended the entire footballing calendar into disarray. 

All major footballing leagues like the English Premier League (EPL), La Liga, Ligue 1, Bundesliga and Serie A are suspended with immediate effects. The epicenters of modern-day football- Spain, Germany, France, Italy, and England; are some of the worst affected countries in the world. Even the Euro 2020 is postponed which has already cost UEFA roughly €250-300 million. But Coronavirus is not the only global health issue that has impacted football. Here are some others:

In pic: Beijing during the 2008 Olympics

SARS and Avian Flu:

Declared as a global threat in March 2003 by the WHO, SARS was caused by a type of coronavirus. And the Avian or Bird Flu also emerged in late 2003 as another global health issue. Both the diseases arose while China was preparing for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. And the effects were felt keenly. As the Games got closer, with millions of visitors to arrive in the country, another outbreak could have proved disastrous. In fact, thousands of Hospital beds were kept vacant during the Olympics in preparation for the worst scenario possible. 

In pic: Ivory Coast, the AFCON 2015 champions

The Ebola threat:

The Ebola epidemic in the years 2014-16 resulted in around 28,616 confirmed cases and 11,310 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone alone. It had major consequences on the African Cup of Nations, which was originally scheduled in Morocco in 2015. After the WHO's intervention, it was postponed for six months. After which it was shifted to Equatorial Guinea. It was an improbable success, in spite of such threats. And Ivory Coast emerged victorious in the competition. 

In pic: people giving solidarity to HIV patients


HIV/AIDS was at its height in the 1980s and early 90s. Rather than impacting individual sports, it has changed the way that the games were being played. For many ethical and legal reasons, mandatory HIV testing of athletes does not exist in many sports even today. Although various bodies like the FIFA and the NBA have adopted a strict policy under which a player with an open wound needs to leave the field until treated. 

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