“Sport does not build character, it reveals it.” That’s an idea that renowned US sportswriter and broadcaster Heywood Hale Broun first put forwards almost 50 years ago. Like most things, the phrase warrants an update for 2020: “Pandemics don’t build character, they reveal it.” Fittingly, nowhere is that more true than the sporting world. The pandemic has been all too revealing of the motivations of the biggest leagues and teams in the world, with football – of both persuasions – betraying its character. “Do we want Joel Glazer to run English football? I don’t want him running #MUFC !” “They’ll say to #AVFC & #LUFC that they don’t really count.” “The sport belongs to the people, not to someone in Boston & the Everglades.” @HenryWinter reacts to ‘Project Big Picture’ proposal pic.twitter.com/FdB82jbO7L — talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) October 12, 2020 Take the Project Big Picture proposal led by US-owned English Premier League giants Liverpool and Manchester United whereby the biggest clubs would be given more power, the league reduced by two teams and the League Cup scrapped. Yes, they would have given the teams of the English Football League the money that they so desperately need to survive but that US$323 million came at a price. Underlying health concerns put football at great risk from Covid-19 It was a naked power grab and it has been shot down, for now at least, in midweek with all 20 EPL clubs stymieing it but the idea will be back, just as it has been since the early 1990s when the idea of a European Super League was first mooted. Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was fulsome about the planned reform, even after it was shot down, trying to play up the football rather than financial side and his happiness that the topic was under discussion. He’s hardly in a position to be critical, with the idea coming from his Anfield paymasters, but others have been. View this post on Instagram “Não deixes aquilo que não podes fazer atrapalhar o que podes fazer” A post shared by Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano) on Oct 16, 2020 at 3:58am PDT Former Manchester United footballer and current EFL club part-owner Gary Neville has been one such voice calling for an independent body to oversee English football and saying it was embarrassing that the Premier League clubs had spent US$1.5 billion in the transfer window but took six months to give the EFL clubs US$65 million. “I would be embarrassed to be part of the Premier League as a member if it had taken me six months to sort out a rescue package for the EFL that need it when they‘re spending that level of money on transfers. It’s not good enough,” he said. Aside from the opportunism of Project Big Picture and unwillingness to send money down the leagues, we have seen general recklessness in football as typified by this week’s international calendar. Will China and NBA fall back in love again with Morey thorn removed Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo heads the list of players who have tested positive for Covid-19, with his coming while on Portugal duty. The six-time Ballon d’Or winner takes has since returned to Italy, where his return was criticised by the country’s sports minister. Vincenzo Spadaforo claimed Ronaldo may have broken Italian protocol in returning, which the footballer denied before the minister hit back. As unseemly as that spat is the real problem is why the Uefa Nations League, which is nothing more than glorified friendlies no matter what they say, are forcing players into unnecessary travel. The international break also saw players from European clubs travel to Africa and South American Fifa World Cup qualifiers. Soon many of these same players will be in action with the Uefa Champions League’s return. You can at least argue that they are meaningful fixtures but it will be no surprise if all this travel sees more cases. So IF the Patriots-Broncos game is postponed yet again, will the NFL officially implement a Week 18? @PhilAPerry joins @ZoandBertrand to discuss why the league hasn't already done so. ▶️Presented by your New England Ford Dealers pic.twitter.com/FyXZVsjl4j — Patriots on NBCSB (@NBCSPatriots) October 16, 2020 In Italy, Juventus and Torino under-23s are riddled, while the Milan derby this weekend is also affected as both clubs are missing players. In France, Montpellier have announced 12 positive tests, with eight of them players. Still they travel to Monaco on Sunday to play. This is all coming at a time when clubs are pushing for fans to return to matches when instead they should probably be preparing for when the game stops or at least imposes some sort of bubble. That is the situation in the other football: the NFL. Houston Rockets blackout the least of NBA’s China worries Instead of copying the protocols put in place by the NBA, NHL and MLB – the first two of which completed their seasons Covid-19 free and baseball goes into the World Series next week having marked 47 consecutive days without a case – the NFL is adopting a different approach. That approach has seen the New England Patriots, Indianpolis Colts and Atlanta Falcons record several positive tests. The Pats game against the Denver Broncos has been postponed twice already and might not go ahead on Sunday. NCAA American football has followed suit, with five games slated for Saturday called off. The university of Alabama coach Nick Saban also tested positive but his Crimson Tide were still set to play Georgia. A total of nine players from six teams - the Eagles, Falcons, Jaguars, Panthers, Patriots and Ravens - all have placed at least one player on the COVID list since yesterday. — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 17, 2020 The other major US sports leagues have already shown how to avoid all of this but the NFL has long overlooked the long-term effects of playing on its athletes. That’s also true in the other football, where the big clubs dream of an NFL-style closed shop. Perhaps we should be comforted that even in the Covid crisis they have stayed true to character.