Lionel Messi: Football, Life 'Will Never Be the Same' After COVID-19 Pandemic

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 31, 2020

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 07: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona looks on during the Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Sociedad at Camp Nou on March 07, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
Alex Caparros/Getty Images

While world football is slowly returning to a state of normalcy, Barcelona star Lionel Messi pondered whether the coronavirus pandemic will leave long-term consequences.

"Football, like life in general, I think will never be the same," Messi said in an interview with Spanish paper El Pais (h/t Barcelona's official site). "The return to training, competitions and what was previously done in a normal way, now will have to be started again, but progressively. It will be a strange situation for us and for anyone who has to change their usual working dynamics."

The Bundesliga returned with matches in empty stadiums in mid-May, while the Premier League is slated to resume June 17. La Liga will be back June 11, with players going through full training for the first time Monday.

As Messi alluded to, though, the shadow of the pandemic will continue to loom.

Like other leagues, La Liga will close off matches to supporters to limit the spread of COVID-19. Fox Sports has piped in audio during its Bundesliga broadcasts to make up for the absence of crowd atmosphere, but watching players celebrate in front of empty stands remains jarring.

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Dortmund celebrate their win in front of their iconic Yellow Wall — even when it's empty 😅 (via @btsportfootball) https://t.co/YT3IcNsKVU

While a possibility, it's not a sure thing that the pandemic will have slowed enough to allow for fans during the 2020-21 season.

More than the situation's impact on his sport, Messi spoke about the damage it has caused to society as a whole.

"All of us that have experienced this situation will remember what happened in one way or another," he said, (h/t ESPN). "In my case, it's with a feeling of sorrow and frustration for those that have suffered the most due to the loss of loved ones."

According to the World Health Organization, Spain has 239,600 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 29,043 people dying from the disease.