European Football: The Aftermath of Covid-19

A year ago, we were hearing news of a strange new illness medical professionals were concerned about. Only two months later, most countries were put into a state of quarantine that still isn’t entirely over.

Europe was one of the most affected regions in the first months of the pandemic. The infection numbers kept going up, and countries like Spain and Italy were declared the epicentre of the pandemic. 

Almost a year later, the word “crowd” makes us feel scared. Fortunately for many European countries, governments moved fast to limit public gatherings. Unfortunately, every field of the economy has been affected by this crisis one way or the other. Today we’ll focus on the effect it’s had on Europe’s favourite sport: Football.

Most international matches and tournaments were cancelled immediately. On March 12th, the UEFA Champions League was postponed; the decision to postpone the EURO 2020 came some time later and it’s now set to be played this year. 

National football associations cancelled and moved matches as quickly as they could, as well. Germany’s Bundesliga was the first national league to resume its tournaments (behind closed doors) on May 16th, and later in June, other countries like Spain, England, and Italy restarted their matches too.

What’s surprising is that the financial impact was smaller than expected. Even though more modest national leagues, like the Scottish Premiership, were heavily affected by the lack of ticket sales, the total loss in Europe as a whole was less significant than what experts predicted in the first months of the pandemic. 

It has also been quite interesting to compare how the teams and players were affected in terms of performance. Most European football clubs and national teams spent four to five months without matches or group training, and they faced a tight preseason schedule after the 2019-2020 season was over.

We can summarize the impact of lockdown in terms of performance in three significant aspects:

Physical Performance Differences

Compared to last year, most European football teams have experienced a slight change in physical performance. The data suggest a decrease in the distances covered at higher intensities of playing. However, the players’ actions remained at the same level as in 2019.

Injury Increase

A number that did increase significantly is that of injuries in professional players. Official data from the Premier League shows that last year recorded 42% more injuries than 2019.

Crowd Support

As most matches are still played behind closed doors, experts have found evidence that suggests a small difference in the teams’ performance due to the lack of crowd support.

How Has Covid-19 Affected Sports Betting? 

As stated, there isn’t a single realm of existence that hasn’t been economically affected by the pandemic and lockdowns. Sports betting is based on the existence of sports competitions, and with almost every sports event getting cancelled last year, the industry experienced some complicated months, to say the least.

Brick-and-mortar casinos suffered the worst, as the revenue of casinos around the world plummeted by about 10% across the board. With many countries still in quarantine and some experiencing a second and third wave of infections, the future of traditional gambling doesn’t seem very bright.

However, there is a ray of hope for the betting and casino industry: Some studies suggest that online betting revenue for some sites increased by almost 67%. Thanks to the tactics online casinos and betting sites employed, like holding online betting events and expanding their esports coverage, the industry experienced a boom in 2020.

Now that we reached 2021 and remain mostly indoors, online gambling is more popular than ever due, as it’s accessible to anyone, particularly those who gamble casually, for entertainment. Betting online has never been easier, to start with. With popular gambling venues investing more and more into online betting and introducing cryptocurrencies, anyone with an internet connection has the chance to place some bets.

Thankfully, we still have closed-doors sports events and esports matches – the latter ever-growing – for the sports betting industry to rely on.