Health effects are still not fully known. Although players are young and do not suffer from comorbidities (such as obesity or hypertension) (5), which reduces the death risk of the virus, they could develop severe respiratory failure and this would require hospitalization (4). Recent studies also show that a subgroup of patients can develop what is known as the “cytokine storm syndrome”, a hyper-inflammatory response that promotes the abnormal release of cytokines, such as IL-6 (6) which may cause systemic failure and even death in some cases (7). On the other hand, since football is a sport that involves the work of many employees every day, and there is a lot of contact among players, the possibility of a new outbreak would be high.
Therefore, and given the unpredictability of the clinic associated with the virus, experts do not believe it is convenient to expose players to the risk of becoming ill and they “think it is necessary to set safety conditions based on the principle of ‘extreme caution’ in order to resume sports activities”.
In addition, another concern doctor have is whether it is ethical to undertake such risk and the conditions of the health systems in the countries affected. Hospitals and, mainly, intensive care units, have seen their services heavily burdened, and that is why resuming competitions could endanger people’s lives and alter even more the stability of health services.
Therefore, before resuming competitions, it is necessary to evaluate the effects that COVID-19 may have on players and also consider the consequences an early comeback may have for health systems. Making decisions thinking about the short term may cause even slower and more difficult recovery.
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- Wu JT, Leung K, Leung GM. Nowcasting and forecasting the potential domestic and international spread of the 2019-nCoV outbreak originating in Wuhan, China: a modelling study. Lancet. 2020 Feb 29;395(10225):689–97. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30260-9
- Callaway E, Cyranoski D, Mallapaty S, Stoye E, Tollefson J. The coronavirus pandemic in five powerful charts. Vol. 579, Nature. England; 2020. p. 482–3.
- Corsini A, Bisciotti GN, Eirale C, Volpi P. Football cannot restart soon during the COVID-19 emergency! A critical perspective from the Italian experience and a call for action. Br J Sports Med [Internet]. 2020 Mar 24;bjsports-2020-102306. Available from: http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2020/03/26/bjsports-2020-102306.abstract
- Petrilli CM, Jones SA, Yang J, Rajagopalan H, O'Donnell LF, Chernyak Y, et al. Factors associated with hospitalization and critical illness among 4,103 patients with COVID-19 disease in New York City. medRxiv. 2020 Jan 1;2020.04.08.20057794. Available from: http://medrxiv.org/content/early/2020/04/11/2020.04.08.20057794.abstract
- Ritchie AI, Singanayagam A. Immunosuppression for hyperinflammation in COVID-19: a double-edged sword? Lancet. 2020 Apr 4;395(10230):1111. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30691-7
- Mehta P, McAuley DF, Brown M, Sanchez E, Tattersall RS, Manson JJ. COVID-19: consider cytokine storm syndromes and immunosuppression. Lancet. 2020 Mar 28;395(10229):1033–4. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30628-0