Milan keeper Begovic discusses how football should deal with the COVID-19 pandemic

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan goalkeeper Asmir Begovic has backed the idea of condensing the schedule so that the Serie A season can be completed amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Sport has been affected across the continent as a result of the pandemic, with the Serie A season suspended until at least April 3, as is the case with a lot of other European leagues.

As the BBC report, the three EU countries who have been hit hardest by the outbreak of COVIC-19 all recorded their highest death tolls for a single day on Sunday.

Italy saw 368 deaths bringing its total to 1,809, and the country is essentially on lockdown as they look to stop the spread and try and move back towards normality – something which seems far away at present.

Milan’s Asmir Begovic has found himself in the middle of the situation having arrived on loan from Bournemouth in January, and he gave an interview to the Daily Mirror about what life has been like during the outbreak.

“It’s a total lockdown. The streets are deserted. The only thing open are supermarkets. You can get a little bit of food and then it’s straight back to your home. I’ve never seen anything like it before. I’m not sure people understand how bad it is here,” he said.

“There has to be a solution and hopefully the decision-makers will see it that way. We have to finish the season, in my opinion. It’s going to be a different way but there’s got to be a positive way to end all of this.

“First and foremost we have to shut everything down, get this virus under control, get everyone fit and healthy and I think the sooner everything gets shut down, the sooner this will all be over.

“Then it’s just a way of trying to fit in all of the games. I really don’t like it when people talk about cancelling, I don’t like behind closed doors because, ultimately, we’re competitors. The fans want to see it out on the pitch.

“There has to be a way of deciding things on the pitch – promotion, relegation, Champions League places, championships and that’s the way we have to do it.

“We could have a football feast. Six or seven weeks of games every night and rekindling the fun of the game.

“It’s a difficult time for everyone, especially here in Italy and I think there’s a way football can really empower everything and bring joy back to the people.”

Begovic has already been involved in one game played behind closed doors – the 2-1 defeat to Genoa at San Siro – and it is not an option he wants to see explored further.

“I don’t think it’s a solution. It’s a collective thing. People lose out on the experience – players, staff and, of course, the fans. It’s a religion, it’s a culture, it’s a way of life,” the Bosnian added.

“It was strange playing behind closed doors. Playing in the San Siro when it’s empty, you are used to having the fans, when you’re the home team you get a crowd advantage, people push you and support you.

“It was so quiet. The buzz wasn’t there, the adrenalin wasn’t there and it definitely hurt as the home team. We were talking to the players on the other team and it wasn’t any fun either.

“I’d rather just delay everything and get the fans in there. The game as we know it, it’s with fans, they’re part of the whole package.

“There has to be a way of packing everything in, whether that’s a short pre-season next year, but we’ll see what decisions are made in the next few days.

“The players could cope with it at all. We love to play. We can play every three days. I’ve been in England for many years with the Christmas period and it’s tricky but we’ve got squads now, players are so fit and we’ve had some rest now.”

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