Five key points as Bundesliga awaits go-ahead to resume

The German league hopes to get the go-ahead from Angela Merkel’s government and heads of the 16 states Wednesday to resume behind closed doors and amid strict hygiene measures.

The Bundesliga ground to a halt on March 13 to limit spreading the coronavirus, but the German Football League (DFL) has detailed plans to restart the top two leagues from May 15.

German Chancellor Merkel and the state leaders will hold a video conference to discuss easing restrictions with restarting the Bundesliga on the agenda.

A green light would make the Bundesliga the first top European league to resume.

AFP sport looks at the key issues:

The Stakes
Magazine Kicker claims 13 of Germany’s top 36 clubs are on the verge of insolvency.

The clubs must finish the season by June 30 to claim an instalment of television money worth around 300 million euros ($325 million).

Germany’s richest clubs – Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig – have pledged 20 million euros ($22 million) to help their rivals facing financial difficulty.

Werder Bremen and Schalke 04 are reportedly in danger of going under unless the league resumes.

Bayern, who are chasing an eighth straight title, were four points clear at the top when the league was suspended.

The Politicians
Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn and Sports Minister Horst Seehofer back the league’s restart plan.

So do Bavaria’s premier minister Markus Soeder and Armin Laschet in North Rhine-Westfalia, the heads of Germany’s key football hotbeds.

However, the league will be under scrutiny if it resumes.

“The concept makes sense and could serve as a model for other professional sports, but we have to see how it goes,” Spahn told radio station Deutschlandfunk on Tuesday.

There is plenty of criticism of the restart attempt.

“Why are the playgrounds closed, but millionaires are allowed to play football?” questioned Anja Stahmann, chairwoman of German’s state ministers for sport.

Mass Testing
The league plans to test players and staff at the 36 clubs in the top two leagues before and after matches.

That means around 20,000 tests to complete the nine remaining rounds of matches.

In last week’s first batch, there were 10 positive cases from 1,724 tests, 0.58 percent, which the league says helps provide “protection” for those involved.

Three cases are known to have been in Cologne and two more reportedly in Moenchengladbach.

Anyone testing positive for the coronavirus will be quarantined from the rest of the club for 14 days, but the local authority will decide if the team must also be isolated.

The Players
The players must follow strict guidelines and each club has a hygiene officer.

Social distancing must be observed, pre-match handshakes and team photos are banned and there must be empty seats between players on the substitutes bench.

Stadium doors will stay open to avoid touching handles and water bottles personalised.

Players will have their temperatures taken before training and are expected to stay home, train on club grounds or be travelling to and from matches.

The players behaviour is already under scrutiny.

Hertha Berlin striker Salomon Kalou was suspended by his club Monday after posting a video greeting team-mates with handshakes, an action deemed “unacceptable behaviour” by the league.

Some players are sceptical about the league resuming.

“There are many more important things than football at the moment,” Bayern defender Niklas Suele told AFP subsidiary SID.

The Fans
With large public events banned in Germany, games must be played behind locked doors without fans.

Only 98 people will be allowed in the pitch area, including 22 players, 18 replacements, five referees, four ball boys and 20 backroom staff members.

Some supporter groups have spoken out against the league restarting.

Senior politicians want matches screened on free-to-air channels to discourage fans from gathering to watch pay-per-view broadcasters Sky and DAZN, who hold the broadcasting rights.

Sky, which broadcasts the majority of matches, has not ruled out reselling the rights to public TV, but will not discuss the issue “until the politicians have made their decision public”.


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