This evening, I, along with millions of other people, will watch the eagerly anticipated England vs Ukraine quarter-final. However, I can’t help but feel a burning sense of injustice when pictures of excited fans, wildly hugging, erratically dancing and drinking like sailors, flood the television screen.
I hate to be a spoilsport (quite literally in this case) but football’s free Covid pass is totally unfair. Why do football fans get to so publicly and proudly defy Covid rules without any penalties, whilst the rest of us are reprimanded for the smallest of slip-ups?
Politicians, the media, even scientists – the same individuals who eagerly piled onto people for sitting on a park bench, or labelled students “covidiots” for returning to university – fail time and again to criticise the irresponsible – and infectious – antics of football fans.
In fact, public figures have been pictured at Wembley joining in the fun, arguably encouraging the reckless behaviour. Rumours of government departments abandoning Covid regulations entirely during their joyous celebrations were rampant in Westminster. Better hope there were no security cameras…
But there’s no outrage. Why? Because in this country, football is untouchable.
However whilst politicians are happy to ignore the flagrant flouting of Covid rules to save face, the damaging (possibly deadly) consequences of Euro 2020 are becoming ever more apparent. According to the BBC, 2000 new Scottish Covid cases have been linked to Euro 2020 games.
According to the World Health Organisation, the number of new Covid cases has risen by 10 per cent, driven largely by Euro 2020 travel and the easing of social restrictions during football matches. And can anyone pretend to be surprised? All this mixing, flying, chanting and inconsistent rule-waiving was bound to have an impact.
Whilst Boris made the rest of us wait another four weeks for our freedom – so that people could get their first and second vaccines – rambunctious football fans are spreading infections, right now, like wildfire.
For me, that double standard feels like a right kick in the teeth. I am personally ready to be rid of these restrictions and I want to let football fans enjoy these games properly with no rules, but I absolutely cannot stand the fact that football is being prioritised over everything else. The hypocrisy is palpable.
My brother is currently one of the 375,000 pupils being forced to miss school for 10 days because one child in his year tested positive. My grandparents were forced to postpone their golden wedding anniversary for the second time in a row. Due to the government’s ridiculous and frankly arbitrary Covid policies, my life and my family’s lives are put on hold. And that is why it is so frustrating to see thousands of people doing whatever they want in pubs and football stadiums just because the Euros are on.
Whilst I am being made to sacrifice so many of my liberties thanks to this lockdown extension, football is bizarrely exempt from these restrictions. How can the government ask me not to host a 100-person party at my house, when pubs will essentially be hosting rule-free parties up and down the country tonight and the government is turning a blind eye?
The government has shown time and time again that its policies are not consistent. If a rule is inconvenient, annoying or particularly unpopular then it can be sidestepped, or ignored. Policy is governed by neither data nor dates, but rather by popular opinion.
There is no good reason why football has been given this privilege. Weddings, British businesses, our children’s education and funerals should all be prioritised. I want football to come home as much as the next person, but at the moment all this Conservative government has been able to do is score own goals.