Back in business: Estonian and Costa Rican leagues restart

May 20 – South Korea and Germany may have been trailblazers in restarting their domestic seasons, but other leagues are following suit. On Tuesday, action returned in both Estonia and Costa Rica. 

This weekend, the Baltic state lifted the state of emergency. Football’s return was green-lighted but with certain restrictions including open-air sports competitions restricted to no more than 100 participants. Next month, up to a 1,000 spectators will be allowed to attend matches.

The pandemic has however forced Estonia’s FA (EFA) to restructure their calendar. The league format has been shortened from 36 rounds to 32 for the top six teams and 30 for the rest.

Early March, the first round of matches was played in the top-flight Meistriliiga. On Tuesday, TJK Legion, FC Kuressaare and Paide Linnameeskond all lost at home.

Across the Atlantic, Costa Rica became the first Latin American country to restart the season. Behind closed doors, Guadalupe defeated Limon 1-0. Football was suspended on March 15 in the Central American country.

Costa Rica has been hailed as an example in the fight against the coronavirus, with just 882 confirmed cases and 10 fatalities, according to the latest data from the Johns Hopkins University.

“We know that soccer is an industry and that is why we coordinate everything with the authorities,” said president of Professional Soccer Players Association Alejandro Sequeira in an interview with Reuters.

“There was fear in March when we did not have protocols, but after two months we know how we can avoid infections. No player has even reported symptoms; now they are very encouraged and committed to sanitary measures to make this work.”

The league protocol prohibits players from hugging or celebrating goals, requires a deep clean of dressing rooms and allows for five substitutes in a match.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1607016462labto1607016462ofdlr1607016462owedi1607016462sni@o1607016462fni1607016462