The Coronavirus Patient Had a Question: Don’t You Lead a Soccer Team?


He swapped his blazer and tie for the uncomfortable match of private protecting tools and left the boardroom for the emergency room at Lisbon’s navy hospital.

There, as a physician pressed into service within the coronavirus pandemic, he confronted feverish, coughing sufferers and helped line up their care. Some of them, although, had a curious query.

“From just looking at my eyes they would say, ‘Hey, are you not the Sporting president? Can I have a selfie?’”

Frederico Varandas is certainly the president of Sporting Clube de Portugal, one of many nation’s largest soccer groups. He can be Dr. Frederico Varandas, a reserve navy doctor who accomplished a tour in Afghanistan a decade in the past earlier than switching his profession.

Varandas, 40, was just lately on name on the hospital for about six weeks, working 12-hour shifts treating navy employees members and their households. His main process was to check and consider the sufferers as they arrived, earlier than handing off the extra severe ones to his colleagues within the intensive care unit.


Though not the type of navy responsibility he was used to — he got here beneath enemy fireplace with a battalion of coalition solders in Kandahar, Afghanistan, a decade earlier — serving within the battle towards the coronavirus introduced a distinct set of challenges.

There was the danger of contracting a novel, probably deadly illness that was not absolutely understood. And the work, he recalled, was extra time consuming than could be typical, as a result of medics had been required to disinfect their tools — sometimes goggles, gloves and a masks — between every session.

Still, there have been lighter moments, like being acknowledged even by his private protecting tools.

In Portugal, the presidents of the Primeira Liga’s three huge soccer groups — Benfica, Porto and Sporting — have nationwide recognition on par with the top of state or the prime minister. Varandas stated he couldn’t recall the variety of occasions he was requested to pose for pictures by the point he accomplished his final shift on the finish of April.

He will not be the one sports activities determine pressed into medical service within the international struggle towards the virus. In Canada, as an example, Hayley Wickenheiser, a four-time Olympic gold medalist in hockey turned medical scholar, has been gathering protecting tools for staff and in addition serving to with efforts to trace the unfold of the virus.

Though sudden, he discovered his medical service fulfilling.

“Sports had stopped in Portugal and I thought that I am more important to the country working as a doctor,” stated Varandas, who this week agreed to speak about his expertise.

After serving within the navy, attending the rank of lieutenant, he spent two years at a small-time membership primarily based near Lisbon, earlier than being handed the chance for what he described as his dream job: turning into Sporting’s head physician. Varandas held the place for seven years earlier than, in 2018, he entered the race to change into the membership’s president simply as Sporting slipped into one of many darkest intervals within the group’s historical past.

The group’s funds had been in disarray, and the previous president was pressured out amid a mutiny from the membership’s membership. Worst of all, 9 first-team gamers walked out on their contracts after being set upon by a bunch of the group’s disgruntled followers.

Varandas was elected after a bitter marketing campaign that was broadly adopted by the information media in Portugal and included nightly televised debates paying homage to nationwide elections. “Football in Portugal is crazy, it’s like a religion, it’s sick,” Varandas stated.

Varandas has had combined outcomes. By the time the coronavirus pandemic struck Portugal, the funds of the membership had largely been stabilized, however outcomes on the sphere had been poor, with the group almost 20 factors behind the league chief, Porto, on the time the league was suspended in March. A battle with the membership’s organized fan teams has change into so extreme that Varandas stated the state now supplies him with a safety element.

The soccer stoppage in Portugal, which mirrors the pause in a lot of the sports activities world, has solely introduced newer and extra instant issues.

After ending his shifts on the hospital, Varandas dialed in for prolonged late evening calls with board members to map out a plan to steer the membership by the sudden drama of getting its season frozen in time.

“I continued controlling things because football stopped, but the club continued,” Varandas stated. “It was not easy at all that first month and a half trying to cope with the hospital work and football.”

Board members, together with Varandas, agreed to 50 % pay cuts, whereas he known as gamers individually to persuade them to cut back their salaries by 40 % for 3 months.

Plans have been made for soccer to return on June 4, however video games shall be performed with out followers and beneath strict hygiene protocols, just like these adopted in Germany’s Bundesliga, the primary main European soccer league to return.

  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated May 20, 2020

    • What are the signs of coronavirus?

      Common signs embody fever, a dry cough, fatigue and problem respiratory or shortness of breath. Some of those signs overlap with these of the flu, making detection troublesome, however runny noses and stuffy sinuses are much less frequent. The C.D.C. has additionally added chills, muscle ache, sore throat, headache and a brand new lack of the sense of style or odor as signs to look out for. Most individuals fall ailing 5 to seven days after publicity, however signs might seem in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How many individuals have misplaced their jobs as a result of coronavirus within the U.S.?

      Over 38 million individuals have filed for unemployment since March. One in 5 who had been working in February reported dropping a job or being furloughed in March or the start of April, information from a Federal Reserve survey launched on May 14 confirmed, and that ache was extremely concentrated amongst low earners. Fully 39 % of former staff living in a family incomes $40,000 or much less misplaced work, in contrast with 13 % in these making greater than $100,000, a Fed official stated.

    • How can I shield myself whereas flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you’ll be able to take to guard your self. Most essential: Wash your palms typically, and cease touching your face. If attainable, select a window seat. A research from Emory University discovered that in flu season, the most secure place to take a seat on a aircraft is by a window, as individuals sitting in window seats had much less contact with probably sick individuals. Disinfect arduous surfaces. When you get to your seat and your palms are clear, use disinfecting wipes to wash the arduous surfaces at your seat like the top and arm relaxation, the seatbelt buckle, the distant, display screen, seat again pocket and the tray desk. If the seat is tough and nonporous or leather-based or pleather, you’ll be able to wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats may result in a moist seat and spreading of germs reasonably than killing them.)

    • Is ‘Covid toe’ a symptom of the illness?

      There is an uptick in individuals reporting signs of chilblains, that are painful crimson or purple lesions that sometimes seem within the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are rising as yet one more symptom of an infection with the brand new coronavirus. Chilblains are brought on by irritation in small blood vessels in response to chilly or damp situations, however they’re often frequent within the coldest winter months. Federal well being officers don’t embody toe lesions within the checklist of coronavirus signs, however some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe needs to be adequate grounds for testing.

    • Should I put on a masks?

      The C.D.C. has beneficial that each one Americans put on material masks in the event that they exit in public. This is a shift in federal steering reflecting new considerations that the coronavirus is being unfold by contaminated individuals who haven’t any signs. Until now, the C.D.C., just like the W.H.O., has suggested that strange individuals don’t have to put on masks except they’re sick and coughing. Part of the rationale was to protect medical-grade masks for well being care staff who desperately want them at a time when they’re in constantly quick provide. Masks don’t substitute hand washing and social distancing.

    • What ought to I do if I really feel sick?

      If you’ve been uncovered to the coronavirus or assume you have got, and have a fever or signs like a cough or problem respiratory, name a physician. They ought to provide you with recommendation on whether or not you have to be examined, learn how to get examined, and learn how to search medical therapy with out probably infecting or exposing others.

    • How can I assist?

      Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities utilizing a numbers-based system, has a operating checklist of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can provide blood by the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in main cities.

As a part of the protocol, Varandas is among the many sporting officers who’re required to bear common assessments for Covid-19, the illness brought on by the coronavirus, as a result of he’s in touch with the enjoying squad. To him, the method is predicated on creating the proper picture round soccer’s return as a lot as being rooted in science. Varandas recalled that he was not examined as soon as whereas he labored on the hospital the place he was repeatedly in touch with coronavirus sufferers.

“Footballers are tested more than doctors working in hospitals,” he stated. “For me that’s really stupid, it’s political. I understand it politically, but scientifically this is ridiculous.”

Varandas, who focuses on sports activities drugs, not epidemiology, remarked that in Portugal, eating places and kindergartens have reopened with out comparable necessities for mass testing.

He sees a far larger problem on the horizon.

Even with video games on track to return, Portuguese groups face enormous monetary challenges for the foreseeable future. The nation has for the previous twenty years punched above its weight in being a producer of world class expertise, extracting hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in income from some the world’s richest groups because of a premium on their “Made in Portugal” model.

The potential to try this is now unsure, with figures just like the chief executives of the Bundesliga and the chief vice chairman of Manchester United saying the $7 billion a 12 months international switch market is headed for a significant correction.

Only this January, Sporting made the most important commerce in its historical past, promoting midfielder Bruno Fernandes to United for a payment that would rise to 65 million euros. “Now sometimes I go to bed and imagine what would happen if we tried to sell Bruno Fernandes now — what would the price be? 15, 10?,” he stated.

“I don’t know what the value of a footballer is now. Sporting, Porto, Benfica, all the clubs in Portugal we have to sell players.”

Credit…Andre Kosters/EPA, through Shutterstock

Varandas stated the fallout from the coronavirus has uncovered the fragility of the world, and buildings like Portugal’s export pushed expertise mannequin.

“This is an experience you can’t forget,” he stated. “It’s incredible to see everything just stop, something that you could have never imagined happening before that something that seems so benign and can do this incredible damage.”