BEIJING, July 25 (Xinhua) — The return of the 2020 season Chinese Football Association Super League (CSL) suddenly faced a tough choice on July 22 when the backlash of COVID-19 cases emerged in Dalian city of Liaoning province, one of its host cities.
Finally, the kick-off whistle in the season-opener match was blown as scheduled in Dalian on July 25.
The Chinese Football Association (CFA) has promised the league would only start in safe environment. The decision of following the original plan seems risky, but the choice shouldn’t be called bold with all precautions including quarantine rules, traceable food chain and repeated nucleic acid tests.
“We have taken this situation into account when making the resuming plan,” said Qi Jun, the CSL official responsible of the virus-control issues.
“We only need to carry on our works and examinations more carefully.”
Before the CSL announced to start, the China’s football governing body has invited top epidemiologists as its consultant, finished investigation in nine potential competing cities prior to choose Dalian and Suzhou city of Jiangsu province, and compiled a 132-page resumption guidance.
“The CSL’s return is such a precious result,” said Liu Yi, the secretary general of CFA.
The Chinese sports industry is recovering from the shock cause by epidemic, and the CSL’s kick-off whistle means a lot.
One month ago, Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) league’s resume in June has marked the restarting point of China’s professional sports after the COVID-19 outbreak.
Therefore, the CSL should be a better sample for all observers to see how the host cities to manage risks and to balance sports recovery and epidemic control.
If the current plan works, the experience from China’s top flight football league could be widely copied. It may also encourage government to carry out more flexible and efficient policy to activate the sports industry.
On the other hand, the detailed works to bring back professional football in China under current restrictions, limitations and uncertainties should also provide all the CSL involving bodies opportunities to review the inside laws of professional football.
“No matter how difficult it is, we should respect and follow the nature and laws of football,” promised Chen Xuyuan, the CFA’s president.
Apart of the most stringent anti-epidemic measures that mark CSL’s divergence to other resumed leagues, another major difference between them is in competition system.
Just like the CBA, championship format has proved itself an essential code in China’s professional leagues’ return, which can reduce risks caused by frequent cross-city travel in such a big country.
This format could also save players and team staffs from being overwhelmed by the hectic pace between matches.
According to the interview with Chen Xuyuan, the format change was made because CFA has realized the impossibility to finish a whole 30-round season in four months.
Besides the format change, the setting of two competing phases and flexible starting time of the second phase provide a reasonable gap for the national teams’ recruitment.
Apparently, this setting refers to the experience of Japan’s J-League, which are blamed of sparing no time for national team competitions.
“The successful restart of Chinese Super League will show the new image of Chinese football,” Chen Xuyuan said.
CSL may be the contemporarily most disciplined professional league in the world.
In order to keep the whole team motivated in the over two months in one place, several clubs have set strict living rules to eliminate external interference. So that the players have to only concentrate on competing and training. Thus the spectators could hope some different spiritual temperament of them.
On the other hand, the organizers have also done a good preparation on psychological counseling, team entertainment and other humane measures to help players to get through this time.
A positive trend also showed as clubs spent their budget more wisely. It should be long influential as the curbs on spending has been enforced to the league.
Just as the CSL’s resumption slogan — Igniting billions hearts — the ultimate benefit of restarting CSL now is it will occupy an unprecedented importance in people’s entertainment, given the fact that there has been half-year drought of sports and public entertainment.
In the first competition day, the huge number of spectators on the live stream watching has proved CSL the most exciting and eye-catching sports resumption in China. With the technologies of 5G broadcasting, virtual interaction, live TIFOs, the fans are gathering with strong passion, just as if they were in the stadium.
Enjoying the pure pleasure of the long-lost CSL matches is a good way to overcome the stressful times. Perhaps, it may become a special reconciliation between fans and Chinese football. Enditem