Professional sports around the world ground to a halt last week as the coronaviruspandemic prompted one country after another to ban large public gatherings. Many sports leagues didn’t wait for official guidance, preemptively suspending or postponing seasons—in some cases after players or coaches tested positive for the virus.
But before pulling the plug, some soccer leagues tried to salvage their seasons by playing games in empty stadiums, much like the talk shows that began filming without live audiences. The bizarre and short-lived spectacle of matches played against a backdrop of empty bleachers proved irresistible to the world’s sports photographers. Truly a testament to soccer’s reputation as the world’s game.