European Competition is Back!
Since mid-March, the idea of coming together has been anathema to people’s sensibilities in fear of getting sick. Over time, people have begun to come out of their shell, some more slowly than others. However, the idea of traveling internationally has been something that’s been largely out of the question. That was certainly the case for European soccer competitions like the Champions League and the Europa League. But today was a momentous day, because it’s back!
That’s right! Today marked the resumption of the Europa League, while the Champions League will resume on Friday. To say that I’m excited would be an understatement. I’ve been waiting five months to see these hallowed competitions reemerge and witness the best teams from across Europe face off to see who reigns supreme!
Of course, they’re not going to be contested in circumstances that any of us are familiar with, since all Europa League matches will be held in Frankfurt and Gelsenkirchen in Germany while Champions League Round of 16 matches will finish in the cities they were originally in before moving to Lisbon, Portugal for the remainder of the tournament. Additionally, the quarterfinal and semifinal matchups will consist of one-off games instead of the traditional two-leg sets, in order to save time.
But those changes don’t bother me. And the fact that fans won’t be present doesn’t bother me either. It’ll be weird, but seeing soccer matches without fans isn’t completely foreign to European football (UEFA has sanctioned various teams over the years for racist activities and ordered matches to be held behind closed doors).
I’m just glad that, after all the uncertainty we’ve all faced with COVID-19, we can finally get back to two of the world’s premier international competitions. And hopefully, it can be an example for how to continue to effectively hold these events while keeping everyone safe.