For many, the return of football during the coronavirus pandemic has begun far too soon. Yet for others, it is welcomed back with open arms – no matter what the circumstances.
The toing and froing of raucous sets of supporters; ironic jeers when a player from the opposition misplaces a pass; the drum chorus as fans rise from their seats in anticipation of a goalscoring moment and the plastic bases of the chairs thud the backs. None of this was audible as football returned on Saturday afternoon.
Instead, the soundtrack to many of the weekend’s German Bundesliga matches was the obvious callings between players and coaches; the occasional crack as a sliding tackle struck a player’s shinpads and a small ripple of applause when goals were scored.
It was nothing to what we have experienced before coronavirus and the lockdown began.
Football has always had an escapist aroma. From the very early days – when factory workers would part with their hard-earned money to watch their local side – football has provided a break from society, an hour-and-a-half to pause and enjoy themselves no matter what is going on around them.
For many people the sport has played a crucial part of their lives; perhaps it was a family tradition to go to the ground every other Saturday, perhaps you met your wife at the football – maybe, you even got married at half-time during one match like this couple did in 2013.
So it is understandable, therefore, why many people view the return of football as providing a morale boost to the nation.
At a time when the nation has suffered over 30,000 deaths, the return of football could provide the smallest boost in morale. It could also – more importantly – keep thousands of people at home, meaning that it will be more difficult for the virus to spread.
When German football was the first of the world’s major leagues to return last weekend, the UK’s desperation for the sport was clearly on show.
It is important to recognise that this was not the top-performing non-terrestrial show in the UK of the weekend as Midsomer Murders pulled in an audience of 836,000 on ITV3.
However, just 93,000 watched Der Klassiker (between Dortmund and Bayern Munich) in November.
The UK’s love for the Premier League will soon begin to return as clubs prepare to complete the season behind closed doors.
But, with Liverpool only needing a handful of points to wrap up the title, viewers may instead switch to BT Sport to follow the nail-biting conclusion to the Bundesliga.
The first weekend of German football provided no difficulties in how it was carried out and until we are out of lockdown, it may give us the morale boost we desperately need during the coronavirus lockdown.