Virtue in the Face of the Virus

As the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak saw teams, the league, the FIGC, and basically all of Italy fighting about schedules and favoritism, it became clear once again why Serie A had gone from the best league in the world in the 1990’s to the league of corruption, drama, and incompetence ever since. But as the death toll rose and government decrees of playing behind closed doors or even suspending the league happened, the reality set in and the bickering quieted down to an ominous silence.

Silent stadiums call for active benevolence

Amongst the loudest complaints early on, of course, was Inter. But their owner, Zhang, created some of the biggest drama by publicly condemning Serie A president Dal Pino and threatening to sue the league if they did not re-schedule their games chronologically. The other day, as an apparent attempt to save face, he announced that Inter were going to donate €100.000 to the local hospital for biomedical research in hopes to help fight the coronavirus. It just felt less like charity and more like a publicity stunt to save face after all of the anger he incited.

Juventus were part of the bickering as well, and as matches began to be rescheduled behind closed doors, they very publicly shared exactly how much money they were losing in revenue for each match that was postponed or played without fans. As a token of their generosity, however, rather than let all of the food go to waste that would have been sold at their Coppa Italia match that was postponed last week, they recruited four charitable organizations to help them distribute that food to those in need. At least their mothers taught them not to waste their food.

Sensational football, sensational fans

Next up, Atalanta fans rose to the occasion ahead of their historic Champions League match in Valencia last night, and donated the €40.000 that they had planned to spend on their match tickets to the AREU, which is the emergency response division of the local region. This was a brilliant way to help those in need in their own area, while supporting their team even when they were unable to travel to watch them play, or congregate to welcome their heroes home. Difficult to say what is more impressive, their amazing goal-scoring season, or their fans choosing to be selfless despite being denied celebrating what was perhaps their club’s greatest achievement to date.

Despite dealing with some major in-house drama, Milan stepped up to the plate yesterday to try to help in the coronavirus crisis. Fondazione Milan, the charitable arm of AC Milan, donated €250.000 to the AREU, and set up a GoFundMe account for fans to donate to as well. Milan Ultras and other fans also donated the money they would have been refunded for their tickets for the Genoa match. And all of the directors and players donated a day’s wages to the cause, too. So nice to see everyone step up as a football community and give back to their local community.

At least Milan's integrity in the face of tragedy is still in tact

While Italy started off embarrassing themselves once again as the COVID-19 outbreak began, it seems that they are finally starting to come together. Italy has been hit with the highest number of COVID-19 positive cases per capita of any country affected by this outbreak.  In the face of massive lost revenues for clubs, municipalities, and more due to the season being suspended, the calcio family finally seem to be realizing that football still has more money than most of the people and businesses hit so hard by the economic side of this epidemic. Ironically, at a time when they have been ordered to stay apart to contain the virus, they are finally coming together in purpose.

This is the time that we see what people are made of, and Milan has typically been one of the shining examples of how football can give back to the community and to the world. Despite being a hot mess internally, I am so proud to support a club that has chosen to take the high road and become actively involved in trying to solve some of the economic problems the coronavirus has caused. Even if we all miss the football, it is great to see virtue in the face of the virus.

Click here to donate to the GoFundMe account set up by Fondazione Milan to help the AREU in Lombardy

This post inspired by the music of R.E. M.’s “Everybody Hurts”

Virtue in the Face of the Virus Virtue in the Face of the Virus Reviewed by Elaine on 12:58 AM Rating: 5
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