German government gives go-ahead, Bundesliga to resume on May 15


The German league announced yesterday that the Bundesliga will
resume on May 15 after being given the go-ahead to restart by Angela Merkel’s
government with matches to be played behind closed doors.


The German Football League (DFL) say the
top two divisions will restart amid strict hygiene measures, making the
Bundesliga the first top European league to resume since the start of the
coronavirus pandemic.


“Matches will be allowed under the
approved rules,” said Merkel at a press conference in Berlin earlier yesterday.


The leaders approved a plan by the German
Football League (DFL) for the Bundesliga to resume in stadiums without
spectators and with players regularly tested.


Permission was granted on condition that
strict guidelines are followed — with a hygiene officer appointed to each team
— to prevent contagion of the virus.


Bayern Munich and Germany captain Manuel
Neuer said the players now had an “enormous responsibility” to be role models
and follow the hygiene guidelines.






‘Wonderful signal’

“Today’s decision is good news for the
Bundesliga,” said the league’s CEO Christian Seifert.


“It’s a great responsibility for the clubs
to implement the medical and organisational guidelines in a disciplined manner.”


Bayern Munich, seeking their eighth
consecutive Geman title, were four points clear at the top of the table when
play was halted in mid-March.


“It’s a good feeling. We are now looking
forward to being able to resume playing,” said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz
Rummenigge, adding the decision was “an important and wonderful signal for the
Bundesliga”.


His opposite number at Borussia Dortmund —
the club second in the table behind Bayern — also welcomed the news.


“We are very pleased that people in
Germany have behaved so magnificently that the spread of the pandemic has at
least been contained,” said Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke.


“Only because the population has been
incredibly disciplined can we now gradually move on to another form of
normality.”


Germany has about 165,000 coronavirus
cases and 7,000 deaths, meaning it has so far prevented its hospitals becoming
as overburdened as other European countries.


Economic reasons are also driving the
decision to allow football to resume.


With 13 of the 36 teams in Germany’s top
two divisions reportedly on the brink of bankruptcy, the league desperately
needs to claim around 300mn euros ($325mn) from TV contracts if the season is
completed.


The league has long urged restarting play,
which it says is vital for a sector that employs 56,000 people in Germany.


Teams returned to training on April 6
although sessions have followed stringent social distancing rules.






10 cases of coronavirus

The league says its intensive testing plan
allows matches to be relaunched with low risk to health.


So far, clubs in the top two divisions
have returned 10 positive results for coronavirus from 1,724 tests since
training resumed. Three are from the Cologne club and two from Borussia
Moenchengladbach.


Health Minister Jens Spahn has argued that
the testing regime “makes sense and can serve as an example for other forms of
professional sport,” although he warned “it has to be lived up to”.


The league and politicians reacted with
consternation when Hertha Berlin player Salomon Kalou filmed himself shaking
hands with teammates this week, flaunting the social distancing rules that
clubs have put in place.


“The video has done the German league and
professional football a disservice,” Anja Stahmann, who chairs Germany’s
regional sports ministers, told RBB radio yesterday.


Hertha have suspended Kalou, and the
34-year-old former Chelsea player has apologised profusely.

AFP Berlin, Germany

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