22. AEROSOLS: Mágico and Emilio

Flügge’s microdrops, or “microballs”, have a special role in supercontagion events, or events where a large number of people are infected. Some scientists have proposed that any event involving more than eight people be considered a super-contagion event 26. This same season we have seen eight goals in a single event. Like Guardiola’s City win over Watford 8-0, with Agüero, Bernardo Silva, David Silva, Mahrez and De Bruyne unleashed. Nothing new for Guardiola, who with Cruyff’s classic 3-4-3 on the board already coached a team scoring eight with Barcelona’s trouncing of Almería in 2011, featuring a hat-trick by Messi. In 2015, Real Madrid also made eight goals against Malmo in the Champions League, with four goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and three from Benzema.

Both are big teams. However, in professional football, and not to mention amateur, you can find even bigger victories. One of Australia’s biggest official wins is the time they beat American Samoa (Little Samoa) in a qualifying match for the 2002 World Cup. Australia won 31-0, with 13 goals from striker Archie Thompson. Thompson, then 41, signed in 2019 for Racing Murcia, a Regional team trained by David Vidal. Thompson soon realized that a Cieza (Murcia) defender is not the same thing as a Polynesian one, and it wasn’t long before he returned to Australia.

We can also find super-contagion events at the first SARS 26. Chinese doctor Liu Jianlun, who treated patients from the 2003 SARS-CoV-1 outbreak, attended a family wedding in Hong Kong and scored no less than «13 goals» vs other guests who were also staying at the Metropole Hotel 26. Also with the SARS-CoV-1, another convincing victory was secured on an Air China flight, in which an infected person took off in Hong Kong and 16 infected passengers landed in Beijing 26.

During COVID-19, many superspreader events have been recorded. Following the logic of Flügge’s microdroplets, closed rooms with many people inside, speaking closely or singing, are high risk, but you should also be careful in open, highly-crowded places where people speak loudly, exclaim and sing, as occurs in demonstrations or football stadiums.

Jonathan Kay, a Canadian journalist, investigated and classified some superspreader events. As a result, Jonathan collated data from 58 super-contagion events in 28 different countries. Of the 58 events, nine occurred during religious services, something that would put practising religious footballers at risk, such as Kaka, who, after winning the Champions League with Milan, kneeled as in church and looked to the heavens at the Olympic stadium in Athens, revealing a T-shirt underneath his football top which read: «I belong to Jesus.»

Six other supercontag events were related to business meetings, where groups of people interacted face to face. But undoubtedly the prize for the most frequent superspreader events goes to the parties (weddings, birthdays, etc.) with 19 of the 58 events this type of event, almost a third. Closed-off places with loud music which forces you to become close to another person in order for them to hear you, and you to hear them, are ideal places to be exposed to SARS-CoV-2. There are so many notorious stories of footballers’ parties that I wouldn’t know who it was better to hang around with, but we all know players like Ronaldinho, or like Mágico González, who toured the bars of Cádiz from dusk until dawn in the company of Emilio, his dwarf friend. Players for whom partyless confinement would be especially tough.

Finally, it is important to mention that funerals also appear among the frequent supercontagion events (five of the 58). They happen in closed places, where people approach and hug each other, and there are also studies that show the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in tears 27. This may be somewhat anecdotal in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, but it is still tremendously symbolic. A pandemic that has taken the lives of thousands of people, beers with friends, travel, or hugs, also penalizes crying. This is cruel because the sadness begins to heal with a good handful of tears, such as those of Maradona after Argentina lost the final of the World Cup in Italy 90, or those of Morientes when Spain was eliminated from the 2002 World Cup in Korea.

When you go out into the street in this period of adaptation to normality, remember to avoid Flügge’s “goals”, and not to play any game where you can get a landslide. Remember also that even the biggest ones cry and that, crying alone, Flügge’s “microballoons” are in your field and you don’t score a goal, so you can indulge yourself. Perhaps crying helps us to cross sadness, which, according to the Lebanese poet Khalik Gibran, «is the fence that separates two gardens.»