The effects of Covid linger longer for elite players
One of the defining truths of the pandemic has been the virus’ ability to infect fit and healthy young people, with professional footballers being no exception.
While discussion has focused on the disruption that the absence of star players has caused, little has been done to analyse what Covid has done to player performance.
In conjunction with The Economist, we found that players’ performance was measurably worse up to 10 weeks after contracting the virus.
This finding places even more importance for clubs on minimising the risk of infection, as it is not just the isolation and match absence that is damaging for a team’s overall results.
Postponements threaten integrity of competition and pose calendar challenges
As bubbles and public restrictions are relaxed, clubs have experienced outbreaks in cases, forcing the postponements of matches. This has led to some leagues witnessing unprecedented discrepancies between clubs in the number of games played.
In the last two seasons, the Bundesliga, La Liga, and Premier League have all either had gaps of 3 or 4 (and up to 6) matches played between teams, well in excess of the typical maximum of 1 or 2.
All this is taking place in the context of a global football calendar land-grab, with UEFA expanding the Champions League from 2024 and FIFA proposing a biennial World Cup and expanded Club World Cup.
Uncertainty still reigns about the future of the pandemic, and as such the extent to which players will need to isolate upon infection in the future.
Postponements are and will cause huge headaches for competition organisers; optimising scheduling to reduce the pain for clubs will be critical.
There is also the question of sporting integrity. While no evidence exists to suggest that it is better to have ‘points on the board’ or vice versa, there will be circumstances where postponements favour one team over another, and stretch beyond the usual bounds of competition ebb and flow.
Competitions will need to define acceptable, evidence-based limits around these issues.
Two years of a pandemic has allowed us to see how the industry and its key players have reacted, but the challenge is not over yet. Leagues, clubs, and players will all need to continue to adapt, and make decisions based on evidence of how the world has changed.
If you would like to find out more about the effects of Covid on football and how our Performance Intelligence can help your organisation, please contact Omar Chaudhuri.
This article was originally published by Off The Pitch.