The PortuGOAL team would like to express solidarity with our audience at this extraordinarily difficult time. We send our best wishes as regards staying healthy to our community who share our passion for Portuguese football, to each and every one of you who have read/listened to/interacted with us over the years, in addition, needless to say, to the wider community.

Drawing on the broad geographical scope of our team of writers from Italy, Portugal, Poland, Germany, UK, USA and Canada, we each answer three questions to describe the Covid-19 outbreak situation in each country and transmit how people are coping. We’re in this together and we can get through it together. Vamos. 

 

Italy – Patrick Kendrick

1) What is the situation / what measures have been taken where you are?

The situation here in Italy in critical. There are no other words to describe it. I am based in the north of the country which is where the outbreaks occurred most dramatically. After dipping their toe with some half-hearted measures on a region by region basis, the government eventually decided that quarantine was the only option.

We are now essentially house-bound save for infrequent trips to the supermarket.

2) What is your personal situation – how has the outbreak affected you daily routine?

Like for so many people, Covid-19 changed my life from one day to the next. I was given an insight into what would eventually happen when I saw a number of my commentary assignments cancelled, as matches went from being played behind closed doors to called off completely. The initial reaction is to bemoan a lack of work but then you come to realise just what is at stake. I’m trying to do my bit by staying at home (however frustrating!) to avoid potentially infecting the more vulnerable members of society.

3) To bring it back to football, what are the best/worst impacts of having no football?

The mass cancellation of football has definitely left a huge hole in my life but it’s also made me acutely aware of how privileged I am to work in the game in the first place. I never thought I’d say this but I’m even missing the snide comments between rival fanbases (you know who you are!) and the dreaded transfer rumours. On the plus side, I’m channelling my frustration into studying Portuguese which, for one reason or another, I had neglected over the last two years. That’s the one piece of advice I would give freelancers: use this time to “tool up” so in the long run you can compensate for this bump in the road by being more valuable in the market place.

 

Portugal - Richard Cole

1) What is the situation / what measures have been taken where you are?

Here in Portugal there are new measures being introduced every day, so it’s difficult to keep up with what’s going on all the time. Obviously, the situation isn’t great. However, it’s reassuring to see that there’s a reaction here, especially when compared to how things are (or aren’t) being done back in England.

2) What is your personal situation – how has the outbreak affected you daily routine?

I work from home, so it’s businesses as usual really. In fact, I wish I didn’t work at home now so I could try to skive. The main difference for me is that my favourite beer place in Lisbon is closed for a while, but I guess I can try and go a little longer without having an amazing beer. 

3) To bring it back to football, what are the best/worst impacts of having no football?

I’m from Manchester, so if the Premier League cancelled and the result is void, it means I’ll probably laugh for the rest of the year. Although, it’s sad not to see Bruno Fernandes continue to revitalise Manchester United.

As a Sporting fan, well, I’ve had some bad experiences from my trips to the Alvalade this season, so the break is good in that respect. But now I’m even starting to miss the bad experiences! At this point I will watch any live football - I don’t care what quality it is. Anything!

 

Portugal – Tom Kundert

1) What is the situation / what measures have been taken where you are?

Schools have been closed, as have bars and cinemas, and all public gatherings have been cancelled, but restaurants and shops are still open, for now. There is speculation the country will go into full lockdown on Wednesday. The number of Covid-19 infections as of Monday 16 March was 331, and this date also marks the first death caused by the virus in Portugal. I have been impressed by the response from the government/authorities, with daily press conferences clearly explaining what is being done, informing the population and giving recommendations. Most Portuguese people have shown a good level of discipline and solidarity – there was a particularly uplifting moment on Saturday night when at 10.00pm people up and down the country went to their apartment balconies to applaud in appreciation of the efforts of the health workers.

2) What is your personal situation – how has the outbreak affected you daily routine?

I’m lucky as my work is divided between translation and journalism so I can work from home, although having a restless and cooped-up 12-year-old brings its problems...

I can’t hide the fact I am very worried, especially as I have an autoimmune disease and take immunosuppressants, but I’m trying not to panic and keep spirits up. The novel situation has led to some novel consequences. For example, instead of watching football every waking hour, I’ve tried talking to my wife occasionally. I’d recommend it.  

3) To bring it back to football, what are the best/worst impacts of having no football?

The obvious plus is Portugal remain Campeões da Europa for longer! The whole situation has also made me realise that some things in life are not absolutely necessary. For example, I’ve discovered human life can continue without hours-long Portuguese TV chat shows every weekend arguing about whether it was offside or not. Who would have thought it?

 

Poland – Marcin Ostrowski

1) What is the situation / what measures have been taken where you are?

On Monday, there was officially info about 156 cases in Poland. Doctors on TV said realistically it means 2000-3000 people in Poland can have it. Government reacted quickly here: since weekend restaurants and bars have been closed, schools and kindergartens even earlier. Only Polish citizens can enter from abroad and they have to be isolated for two weeks. Air transport was abandoned too. Many people work at home and there are instructions not to move unless necessary. Like everywhere I suppose, #StayAtHome is popular self-motivating hashtag here. People seem to obey; city centres and old towns are empty.

2) What is your personal situation – how has the outbreak affected you daily routine?

So far, I’m more busy than usual. as I’m working on website for Canal+ TV which focuses on sport, that means revolution to our TV Guide, changing our profile from live premium sports to kind of local ESPN Classic :) We have lots to update. Fans will see many classic Premier League games, Polish Ekstraklasa magazines from previous decades and iconic NBA games, among others. Sadly, we’ve never had Portuguese league in our portfolio.

I’m very lucky as I have work to do and I can do it for home. I’m worried about people who need to go to work just like about those whose job is under threat now.

3) To bring it back to football, what are the best/worst impacts of having no football?

I have to admit I’m among those who complained that there is too much football all the time, too much competitions to follow. I also complained at traffic and too many meetings in the office. Beware what you dream of!

On positive note, I think we can use this difficult time as an opportunity to slow down. My kindle is full of interesting football books I haven’t read yet, I have whole shelf of great Blizzard magazines I haven’t read carefully. With no football news to follow really and no games to watch, I can imagine reading more about the beautiful game to understand it better: its history, tactics or social background. It will also be interesting to read experts writing about how this whole thing can influence football. Many fans already thinking about whether this “reset” can actually improve some aspects of the game a bit.

 

Germany – Matthew Marshall

1) What is the situation / what measures have been taken where you are?

More social isolation measures are being taken. Germany closed borders with France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria and Denmark on Monday morning. My partner was ordered to work from home and all her social activities have been cancelled. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said grocery stores, petrol stations, banks and pharmacies will remain open while non-essential shops are to close. Merkel also said all bars, clubs, theatres, zoos, public swimming pools, playgrounds and brothels must close.


All domestic and foreign vacation travel must cease for the time being. “We are dealing with something unique here,” Merkel said. “The more every individual sticks to these restrictions, the faster we can get through this phase.”

2) What is your personal situation – how has the outbreak affected you daily routine?

I work from home and fortunately have plenty of work to do that doesn’t rely on sport being played. I have stopped going to the gym and spend that time riding my bicycle.

3) To bring it back to football, what are the best/worst impacts of having no football?

Having no football is certainly strange considering how many matches I usually attend and how much time it takes travelling to and from matches. The coronavirus has had a positive effect on my life in that respect as I have much more time to watch films, documentaries, play guitar, listen to music, spend time with my partner and catch up on things I had been putting off. 

 

United Kingdom - Aaron Barton - Proxima-Jornada.Net

1) What is the situation / what measures have been taken where you are?

Hello everyone, first and foremost I just want to say I hope all readers and beyond are okay and taking all necessary precautions whilst the situation goes on. Health is the priority!

I’m based in Liverpool, England and at the moment the country seems to be delaying closures and/or lockdown. Schools are still open, workers are still commuting to workplaces. It seems that in the next couple of days, places may begin to close but for now, businesses, schools, shops all remain open. The one major thing that has changed is the supermarkets, the shelves are emptying by the day, it seems the panic buying has well and truly begun.

2) What is your personal situation – how has the outbreak affected you daily routine?

Personally, I’m in a bit of a precarious position, I recently left my job as a teacher in order to move into something a bit less time consuming and taxing and also to make more time for writing and travelling. This was about three weeks ago, so before the virus had really started to affect things particularly in England. However, it has now completely put the job hunt on hold. Two different interviews I was scheduled to have were subsequently pushed back and another was cancelled altogether. For now, whilst the schools are still open, I am doing supply/cover teaching but if the schools close soon (which I imagine they will) who knows what will happen. Each day I am just aiming to write as much as I can with the free time and continue learning Portuguese – I need all the time in the world to master this!

3) To bring it back to football, what are the best/worst impacts of having no football?

The obvious negative is that we are all without the sport we love! As a season ticket holder for Everton I am missing making my weekly jaunt to Goodison Park. On the plus-side I no longer have to watch Liverpool win every week! 

I’ve been trying to stay occupied by reliving the matches from the past, I know a lot of people on social media got involved with my Euro 2016 final thread, that was something I really enjoyed doing! Over the next few days I’ll be working on some longer more detailed pieces so keep an eye out for them, and as always, keep yourselves safe and let’s hope normality resumes soon!

 

United Kingdom - Patrick Ribeiro

1) What is the situation / what measures have been taken where you are?

Much like everyone in the United Kingdom, those in my area of the country are awaiting briefings and orders coming from the Government, which currently sit at standard social distancing, working from home where possible and avoiding public areas, such as pubs, bars and gyms. The wait and precedent set in affected countries has fueled panic, which has made for interesting viewing at each and every supermarket.

2) What is your personal situation - how has the outbreak affected your daily routine?

As a freelance journalist, the lack of football has brought forwards the stand-out challenge of digging for relevant content, but moreover, as a citizen, it’s been important to reassess my everyday life activities and minimise them where possible. Staying clear of pubs, clubs and restaurants, working out at home in a bid to avoid attending my local gym indefinitely - all are measures I’ve felt compelled to put in place, regardless of the risk level, in order to protect myself and the most vulnerable people that happen to be around me. 

3) To bring it back to football, what are the best/worst impacts of having no football?

The sport really is a way of life for so many of us. It highlights one’s week and builds bridges within communities, so to have it at an all-new non-existent state, like we’ve never seen before, is beyond bizarre. There are certainly facets that we don’t miss, but plenty more that we do. But if there’s anything to take away from this experience, it’s that life is precious and can be put at risk just like that. Treasure what we have - our families and friends. The rest shall follow in due course.

 

United Kingdom - Sean Gillen

1) What is the situation / what measures have been taken where you are?

Until now, many have followed the government in being mindful but not overly concerned by the situation. When out locally on Saturday, I would not have known there was an issue: restaurants busy; pubs busy. Aside from a few people hoarding extra items, I think many have tried to go on as normal. That changes now after the Prime Minister’s address on Monday during which he advised new and much stronger measures. People often try to laugh their way through these situations, but a sizeable percentage of messages rooted in humour have shifted to criticism of authorities and lack of government leadership.

2) What is your personal situation - how has the outbreak affected your daily routine?

As of yet my daily routine has not been affected as only now have we been properly advised to work from home and avoid medium to large groups. Further ahead, things are being cancelled all over the place. A friend has lost vast money on a cancelled a trip to the United States, while another who works at a hospital told me that they have been told nobody will be entitled to annual leave from April 1st which is perhaps a sign of the pressure the National Health Service is about to be under.

Elder family members are extremely worried. It feels like this week is a big shift in how seriously things are being taken. Hopefully it’s early enough for us to avoid the extent of the damage in Italy, but I’m fearful we could have done more.

3) To bring it back to football, what are the best/worst impacts of having no football?

We’re allowed to admit the lack of football is depressing, even though totally necessary and perhaps overdue given the warnings. But football will be back; it won’t be gone long. It’s a time for patience and civic engagement where possible. When football does return, it seems inevitable that the Euros will be scrapped and the various seasons feasibly ending in the middle of the summer. So instead of watching Portugal defend their crown, we’ll have to watch Liverpool lift the title on a nice summer July afternoon. Oh great…

 

United Kingdom - Jamie Farr

1) What is the situation / what measures have been taken where you are?

In London things are moving pretty quickly, the country overall seems to progressing towards a lockdown with all non-essential engagements advised to be canceled and for people to remain housebound.

2) What is your personal situation - how has the outbreak affected your daily routine?

Like many of us in the country I have been advised to work from home indefinitely and indeed my company has decided to close the offices. Working from home is semi-commonplace for me so this is not a major transition albeit the idea of being cooped up indoors for the forseeable future is not overly appealing! 

3) To bring it back to football, what are the best/worst impacts of having no football?

I think canceling the football was the best idea, as others have said there are far more important issues to contend with and halting such events is helpful then clearly this is the way forward. As an Arsenal fan you can imagine the notion of scrapping 2019/20 and pretending it never happened is an appealing one to me! Hopefully things can progress back towards normality in the near future.

 

United States of America - Nathan Motz

1) What is the situation / what measures have been taken where you are?

Things change here daily, sometimes several times per day. Today, restaurants were banned in my city from doing any business other than take-out which will hurt a lot of people no doubt. Gatherings of more than 250 people were banned until today when the number of people was adjusted down to only 50. Schools are in "extended spring break" but it seems more and more likely the rest of the school year (i.e. through May) will be cancelled. Cases continue to pop up in my local area and I would say the general fears about what might happen are still growing. My church could not even meet on Sunday but the service was broadcast online. Three people have died in my state while 136 total cases have been reported. 

2) What is your personal situation - how has the outbreak affected your daily routine?

Call me belligerent or foolish, but right now I’m choosing to avoid all the paranoia I have witnessed around me. Furthermore, I was already on extended parental leave because of the birth of my second child which means I would have been hanging out at home all day anyway through March 30th. I am also an introvert so I’m well prepared for this sort of crisis. :) Still, I would be lying to say I’m not worried about the world economy and in particular all the post-Covid-19 problems we will almost certainly be dealing with for a long time to come.

My work has just issued a policy that only essential personnel will be allowed to work for the next 4-5 weeks at least. When I do go back to work it will likely only be for a few hours a day to complete the most important tasks. Some of our family will not be coming to see our baby since they would have to fly and that is a lot more risky. All things considered, I’m ok and count myself fortunate.

3) To bring it back to football, what are the best/worst impacts of having no football?

I really like this question but I’m actually writing a piece for the website right now which will go into much greater detail. I love football so I obviously miss it, but my 2-year-old son and I kick the ball in my backyard daily. Writing to me is a joy, not an occupation, so I have compassion for those whose careers rely upon the football calendar because they will suffer a lot. Selfishly, I was really looking forward to being in Budapest this summer for the Euros but it’s okay. I’ll get to watch Portugal beat the hell out of Germany and France some other time. Força Seleção. 

 

Canada (20/03/2020) - Rui Miguel Martins

1) What is the situation/what measures have been taken where you are?

I’m in Toronto, Canada. We’re not in full lockdown, at least not yet, but most businesses are closed and almost everyone is working from home, including myself. 

2) What is your personal situation - how has the outbreak affected your daily routine?

On a personal level, I’ve had to adjust to working at home and it’s been difficult. I work in a career where I need to be connected with everyone at a given time. The most difficult part is despite the crisis, the world must go on. What might normally involve leaving your desk or clicking a button, involves so much more. But I think about how everyone else is dealing with the outbreak and I feel it’s important to realize that I’m very lucky.

One thing I’m doing is trying not to get carried away by everything. That’s why I’m purposely avoiding social media, hence, that’s why I haven’t tweeted this week. While, Covid-19 is a serious issue which could become even greater, it’s important not to get carried away.

3) To bring it back to football, what are the best/worst impacts of having no football?

I’ll go out and say it, it’s been difficult without football. In all honestly. The Portuguese season was quickly becoming one of the most memorable since I could remember. The rollercoaster at FC Porto, Lage feeling the pressure at Benfica and Amorim at Sporting. It’s been such a remarkable season, so far. And, with Atletico Madrid eliminating Liverpool, it was set to be another unpredictable, exciting conclusion. One way, it makes you appreciate sports as a useful diversion. But its absence reminds you that there are more important things.

 

 

Please feel free to share your own experiences in the comments section and please stay safe. 

 

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