Football is, according to Arrigo Sacchi, “the most important of the unimportant things in life”. The former shoe salesman brought a great amount of joy to people in his second walk of life as a football manager, winning back-to-back European Cups in 1989 and 1990 with AC Milan before taking Italy to a penalty shoot-out against Brazil in the 1994 Fifa World Cup final. Sacchi, now 73 and occasionally still called upon by the Italian media for his punditry, would likely admit his quote means more than ever with his country battling “one of the most dangerous opponents we have ever come across”, as his former player, Demetrio Albertini, put it. Milan’s technical director, Paolo Maldini, another player Sacchi gave his debut to, and his son have tested positive for the coronavirus. The situation also reminds us why we all love football – and indeed all sport – in terms of his quote. As Albertini told his former club Barcelona’s website: “Arrigo Sacchi did not just want to win, he also wanted to be remembered for the style of his teams, and he did it.” Sport is entertainment and it does it in a way that other forms cannot match. There is no script. It was fitting that it was Sacchi who was in charge at that 1994 World Cup – the one where football made a global breakthrough by being held in the United States, where Roberto Baggio inspired his team to the final and then missed the crucial spot kick. The “most important of the least important things” is on hiatus as the world tries to stop the spread of the coronavirus. It is battered but not beaten. Football has found a new way to carry on. . pic.twitter.com/sC8aeWqnAs — Marco Asensio (@marcoasensio10) March 22, 2020 Last weekend, the first in which there was no football in Spain, Borja Iglesias of Real Betis and Sevilla’s Sergio Reguilon took to their consoles to play out the Seville derby from the comfort of their couches. Some 62,000 people tuned in to the live stream of Spanish YouTuber Ibai Llanos, the country’s most famous Fifa 20 streamer. That game – won 6-5 by Betis with Iglesias guiding his virtual version to a hat-trick – snowballed into this past weekend’s Fifa 20 tournament where most La Liga clubs were represented by one of their real-life players following a tweet from Llanos. As Spanish football expert Sid Lowe pointed out in The Guardian , competition was fierce. “At some clubs, there was more than one candidate,” Lowe wrote. “Thibaut Courtois, Asensio and Dani Carvajal had to compete to see who represents Real Madrid.” It was Marcos Asensio in the end and he went on to win the tournament, which raised US$149,000 for charity. Following @leytonorientfc ’s announcement of #UltimateQuaranTeam ... we’ve dipped into the emergency transfer market Welcome to #swfc @DeleeFIFA ! pic.twitter.com/veHZmlP3BA — Sheffield Wednesday (@swfc) March 17, 2020 The tournament, played from Friday to Sunday, was broadcast online with some of Spanish TV and radio’s best-known voices on commentary duty. It’s football but not as we know it. English football offered something similar and it also started with a tweet. League Two side Leyton Orient put out a tweet and within hours a 128-team charity tournament called the “Fifa Ultimate Quaran-team Cup” was filled up with representatives from real football clubs across the world. Some of those were real-life footballers and some were professional e-gamers. The media and the public got behind it and money flooded in towards their £50,000 (US$58,000) target. All of it was to be streamed on Twitch, the live video-gaming platform, and supported by the Fifa eWorld Cup, Fifa 20’s biggest stage. ⚽Watch the moment we surprised @leytonorientfc ’s @sam_sarge and Dan Walker with their first tie opponents @fclokomotiv @fclokomotiv_eng I @BBCSport I @5liveSport I @BBCMOTD Listen to @TherealNihal on @BBCSounds - https://t.co/4SnxX44AQs pic.twitter.com/oeWrJwARpH — BBC Radio 5 Live (@bbc5live) March 19, 2020 It is not just football, of course. The first ever Formula 1 e-Prix took place overnight in Bahrain, well, it was the Bahrain track but the drivers were on their PCs around the world. The grid featured just two F1 drivers, Lando Noris and Nicholas Latifi, the latter a rookie who is yet to race in real life. They were joined by e-sports stars and celebrities (One Direction’s Liam Payne, Olympian Chris Hoy and golfer Ian Poulter) to create a thoroughly modern sight – or should that be site – where worlds collided. Fans tuned in on the F1 YouTube channel and Facebook to see Renault Chinese test driver Guanyu Zhou win. Time to start the fun @VeloceEsports ' #NotTheBahGP has completed qualifying and is LIVE ahead of the first race @LandoNorris qualified P6 @NicholasLatifi qualified P8 — Formula 1 (@F1) March 22, 2020 In coming weeks, users at home will also be allowed to join in to really break the fourth wall. It is all fun and games, as sport should be, but there are signs that the business of sport is creeping in, too. Sky Sports screened the F1, while the Ultimate Quaran-team Cup has become a live market on most betting sites, with Manchester City and Sheffield Wednesday seen as the favourites. The Racing Post has been offering tips as if it were any other sporting event on any other weekend. WINNER of #F1Esports Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix! Crazy one! So fun @F1 pic.twitter.com/kwvFbwNkEo — Guanyu Zhou (@gyzhou_33) March 22, 2020 More sports – and more traditional TV – will follow if this brave new world works, and then e-Sports will have become truly mainstream. Where once only ambitious shoe salesmen feared to tread, virtual gaming could make champions of us all – from our sofas and with our shoes off. Welcome to the new normal. Purchase the China AI Report 2020 brought to you by SCMP Research and enjoy a 20% discount (original price US$400). This 60-page all new intelligence report gives you first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments and intelligence about China AI. Get exclusive access to our webinars for continuous learning, and interact with China AI executives in live Q&A. Offer valid until 31 March 2020.