Should Arsenal be going to Portugal to play Benfica? Or anywhere?

The coronavirus pandemic has now become even more virulent with just about every country closing their borders to try and restrict the spread of the new Covid-19 variants which are raging through Europe at the moment.

All countries are introducing tougher lockdown measures, including Portugal, who were one of the last of the European countries to be seriously affected, but are now seeing cases spiral out of control. A report on Portugal in Aljazeera today said: “Authorities are toughening up restrictions after estimating that just 30 percent of the population respect social distancing rules.

However, Francisco Miranda Rodrigues, the president of one of Portugal’s top associations of mental health professionals, Ordem dos Psicólogos Portugueses (OPP), said: “It’s a complicated cocktail of causes, perhaps unique to Portugal.

“Twenty percent of our population lives in poverty or social exclusion, a very significant figure, and after such a long pandemic their limited resources have been used up. As a result, their ability to follow [the lockdown] rules has gone up in smoke.”

Arsenal are supposed to be playing Benfica in the Europa League in just three weeks time, but would you want to travel in the midst of such danger? Especially as the new variant are affecting even more people and also more younger people.

England is hardly out of the woods either and the Government has closed it’s borders for any unneccessary travel either in or out of the country, and the vaccine will not be widespread in just three weeks time.

So the question must be asked; where can the game be played even if Arsenal and Benfica can agree on a so-called “neutral venue”? Should the game really go ahead anywhere while the whole of Europe is in deep lockdown.

If I was an Arsenal player, I wouldn’t be keen. Would you?

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  1. Declan says:

    Even though travelling footballers are treated as Elite Sportsman, being regularly tested, and are exempt from current travel restrictions, I have a feeling this fixture will not go ahead wherever the venue is. I’m not sure though that anyone has got the bottle to postpone it.

    1. Dan kit says:

      Money though Declan that’s the problem
      Personally for me the only football that should have gone ahead should have been in our own country bubble ,same applys for another country’s .
      Having our players go play for their respective country’s in these pointless qualifiers is an absolute joke .
      I read that when the international break is on there is about 10000 people travelling all over from different country’s ,not all players but backroom staff ,Then we have tele crews ,reporters .It’s like a free for all .
      Needless travel for a Tournament that will probably not even go ahead ,keep the football to each country and keep within their own laws is my view .
      But money will always talk .

  2. ken1945 says:

    Pat, a good reasoned article that ignores one fact… players in the PL are the most tested individuals in the UK
    If you take out of the equation individual players who have ignored their clubs and the government instructions, along with the irresponsible actions of clubs like Celtic, then the footballing fraternity is more protected than any other outside of the essential workers group in my opinion.
    Now what the Portuguese footballing authorities are doing, I have no idea and I don’t trust the likes of EUFA and FIFA to take /make any decisions that would cost them revenue.
    So I suspect that the match will take place and if either team declare that they are not going to participate, said club will be fined and lose the tie.
    If Benfica cannot guarantee the safety of our players, as it seems we can, then I say, let them have the win and keep our players (and their families) safe.

  3. ThirdManJW says:

    Yes, I don’t see the problem, unless we shut everything down for any virus, at any given point?

    Will be interesting to see what governments do with the flu, once they have decided the scaredemic is over. It claims so many lives every year, so surely the lockdowns will be a constant every year…if it’s all about saving lives!

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