It is unconscionable to describe. 11 days ago, Madridismo was euphorically praising a Clásico home victory. There were still many weeks to go with two titles up for grabs. Suddenly, that reality became ancient history and insignificant. Our world revolving around Real Madrid has stopped due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
This unfathomable situation began on March 3. Real Madrid’s basketball team traveled to Milan to play Olimpia Milano in a Euroleague game. Since the confirmed case count in Italy was at 322 before March, the game was to be played behind closed doors. Real Madrid won the game 73-78. Team captain Felipe Reyes tweeted afterwards, “I don’t remember ever playing in an empty stadium. It was a rare feeling. But we take a fundamental win in Euroleague. We move forward!” Nine days later, fellow teammate Trey Tompkins tested positive for Coronavirus. The avalanche was only going to grow.
Back in Madrid, the confirmed cases grew exponentially. It started with only two cases on February 27. It then went up to 174 on March 7. As of today, it became 1,388!
Each daily briefing given by Spain’s Ministry of Health sounded as if a broken record was playing. The repetitive instruction was to wash hands thoroughly and cover mouths during coughs were enough to minimize transmission. As the situation ballooned domestically and internationally, the major sports governing bodies brought down the gauntlets.
This past Tuesday La Liga announced the next two home games (against Eibar on March 13 and against Valencia on March 21) were to be played behind closed doors. Real Madrid were to play in front of nothing but empty blue seats in the Santiago Bernabéu. As if this wasn’t enough to process, La Liga announced today that the next two rounds are suspended indefinitely. No soccer period.
Earlier this week, the Club announced measures to protect itself against the Coronavirus outbreak. According to Tomás Roncero of Diario AS, all previously-scheduled events between the Club, its official Peñas and Foundation are suspended indefinitely. The Corazón Classic Match, a charity exhibition between the Real Madrid and Porto legends scheduled for March 29, is postponed until further notice. Also, the first teams for basketball and soccer were ordered to quarantine. The fear meter is at its highest level.
This self-quarantine by Real Madrid also applied to everyone inside the office halls of Valdebebas. These Club employees are now working remotely from their homes. All former veteran Club players who planned to attend upcoming Peña-sanctioned events have Club orders not to travel. These Peñas, which had their anniversary parties scheduled within the next few weeks, have postponed them until this current health safety crisis subsides.
We are witnessing a complete shutdown before our very eyes. Don’t be surprised if more drastic measures by UEFA and FIFA are announced after this article is published. This crisis is so fluid that keeping up is almost impossible. It is truly shocking how fast our escapes from life can be halted. Coronavirus has officially claimed its latest victim: this European soccer season.
My heart goes out to all international Madridistas who planned to travel to attend the upcoming games and visit the Santiago Bernabéu. This horrendous situation is absolutely unprecedented. The dream to watch the Kings of Europe and tour the most prestigious stadium in the world was shattered.
However, we must remember our well-being and that of our neighbours must take priority. It may appear there is no end in immediate sight, but life will normalize in time. Until then, please take care and stay informed everyone. May full recovery come to all those infected. Our favourite pastime and way of life will return soon.
Christian Paredes (@Xian_D_Paredes) is a Founding Member and former Chairman (2012-2016) of La Peña Madridista Sur de California (@RmSurCalifornia)