What a 24 hours this has been for Norwegian football, and for UEFA’s much heralded Nations League competition.
What a disgrace. What a farce.
Yesterday, I wrote about how the Norwegian team was telling its domestic based players to stay at home whilst allowing the likes of Ajer and Elyounoussi to travel and play their games. It was a crazy decision, like many decisions made by national associations during the crisis, and all to toe the UEFA line and pretend that things are perfectly normal.
Just how abnormal it all became was made clear just hours later when they changed their advice to the players and grounded all non-domestic based footballers as well. A few hours after that, they and UEFA confirmed that the match against Romania was off and there is significant doubt as to whether their match with Austria will go ahead as well.
Austria is a strange case in point; their domestic clubs are already allowed to pull players from the international squads during this crisis and several of them have done so. As the Nations League, and indeed international football itself, continues to unravel, there are surely going to be others that do the same.
This is pulling threads out of the fabric of the game.
Every country has different rules. Some have quarantines and some don’t.
Some actually let fans into grounds.
Most don’t. Some have travel corridor restrictions and some don’t.
It is a nonsense to pretend that this is tenable and that it isn’t incredibly risky.
Celtic can’t act alone. The SFA would have to lead the way, or the Scottish Government would need to step in as the Norwegian government has already done. It’s a matter of time before one of our players inadvertently brings this thing back from an international match, and that starts an infection at a Scottish club, regardless of the precautions they take.
When does it become a public health issue for Scotland along with everything else?
And here’s the thing; we’ve made the Euros, so the Nations League competition is little more than a waste of our time anyway.
We won’t play meaningful international games until the summer, and everyone knows that.
By then we may have a handle on this crisis as the vaccine comes into play, or we might be exactly where we are now and then there has to be a balance of risk.
For the moment though, we’re endangering people un-necessarily.
And that’s why our club should be lobbying the SFA and the government if necessary, and trying to bring our players home, today.