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FOOTBALL

DFB tells gay players: come out, but quietly

Will footie fans ever welcome openly gay players on the pitch? A leaflet from the German Football Association (DFB) tells closeted German football players to come out at the end of the season - so people forget all about it.

DFB tells gay players: come out, but quietly
Photo: DPA

Homosexuality and professional football have never been easy bedfellows, and many gay footballers remain in the closet for fear of losing their jobs or being unceremoniously kicked out of the game, wrote Die Welt on Thursday.

But a new leaflet seen by the paper and due to be issued by the DFB is being flagged as a real practical step forward for the German game, which for years has only fought homophobia with symbolic actions.

Yet the “Right way to come out!” pamphlet – written in the stuffiest official German – does not exactly make coming out sound like a joyous celebration of self-confidence and righteous taboo-smashing.

Players considering taking the plunge are told they should save their announcement until “just as the season comes to an end” because the news will have a media “half-life” – allowing time for the inevitable fuss to die down before new season opens.

Critics say the move is nowhere near enough to tackle the pervasive macho culture in the game.

“Publishing a brochure is one thing, but you can’t leave people alone after that,” Jörg Litwinschuh head of the Magnus Hirschfeld Institute which fights homophobia in sport, told the paper.

Far more welcome than further platitudes from the DFB, said Litwinschuh, would be long term initiatives with youth groups and trainers to tackle homophobia in football at its roots.

For German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger also, the leaflet is a cop-out. “Why can’t a Bundesliga coach just put a rainbow flag on his chair?” she told Die Welt.

Unlike elsewhere in the world – notably the US – to date there are no openly gay professional German players.

The Local/jlb

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SPORT

EXPLAINED: The Covid rules for attending German football matches

The German Bundesliga kicks off on Friday evening with a match in Mönchengladbach. Here's a run-down of the Covid rules for football fans itching to join the crowds at the stadium.

EXPLAINED: The Covid rules for attending German football matches
Crowds cheer at a match between FC Kaiserslautern and Borussia Mönchengladbach, on August 9th, 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Uwe Anspach

All eyes will be on Mönchengladbach this evening as the Bundesliga season kicks off with a match against reigning champions Bayern Munich – and this time, a crowd will be present in the stadium.

READ ALSO: German football fans get green light to return to stadiums next season

With several states liberalising their rules for public gatherings in recent months, many football fans are looking forward to enjoying a lively atmosphere at football matches once more. 

There’s just one problem: there are different rules for different stadiums. Here’s what you need to know about the Covid rules before you book your ticket for any of the upcoming fixtures. 

How many fans are allowed in the stadiums? 

According to a recent decision by the federal and state governments, football stadiums around the country are allowed to fill half of their seats and sell up to 25,000 tickets to fans. 

Of course, how much this limit affects the overall atmosphere – and the football clubs’ bottoms lines – depends on the capacity of the stadium. In Borussia Dortmund this weekend, the full 25,000 tickets have been sold – but that only equates to 30 percent of the stadium’s full capacity.

READ ALSO: German football: Which Bundesliga club should I support?

Meanwhile, in the stadium owned by Berlin’s FC Union, selling just 11,000 tickets is enough to fill half of the available seats. 

What do I need to show to get in? 

That really depends on the stadium in question, although in general anyone over the age of six will need to show a negative test or proof of vaccination or recovery – the so-called ‘3G’ rule – to enter the grounds. But other clubs, such as FC Cologne, have decided to only permit people who are vaccinated or recovered to attend matches from August 28th onwards – with exceptions for people who can’t get vaccinated, like children and pregnant woman.

At Mönchengladbach’s Borussia Park stadium, however, unvaccinated fans can enter with a negative test, though visitors who’ve stayed in a high-risk or virus variant area over the past two weeks will be unable to enter – along with people who’ve had recent contact with someone who has Covid. 


If you want to see action like this at FC Cologne’s stadium, you’ll need to get your Covid jabs sorted first. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Robert Michael

Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund has taken a middle ground. While the 3G rule applies in principle, only 1,000 of the available 25,000 tickets will be sold to people who are providing a negative test. The remaining 24,000 seats will only be available for those who are vaccinated against – or recently recovered from – Covid. 

If you’re not vaccinated and are keen to see a match, it’s worth checking on your local club’s website beforehand or sending them an email to double-check whether you will be allowed in. 

What else do I need to know about? 

You’ll need to bring a FPP2 mask with you to matches to wear in your seat and while heading to the bathroom or bar, and also observe social distancing rules – meaning staying 1.5 metres apart from your fellow fans.

In most states, you’ll also need to provide your contact details, which will be saved by the club and potentially passed on to local health authorities in order to monitor a potential Covid outbreak. 

Will these rules continue throughout the season?

That’s still an open question. If infection rates in Germany continue to rise or high-profile superspreading events occur at future matches, the government could potentially crack down further on sports events in autumn.

This could involve limiting the seat numbers even further, or (more controversially), introducing a ‘vaccinated-only’ rule for entering stadiums. 

READ ALSO: Should Germany bring in Covid restrictions for unvaccinated people only?

A recent outbreak of Covid in the Mainz football team has also dampened celebrations slightly in the run-up to the start of the Bundesliga – leaving club owners urgently calling for both fans and footballers to get vaccinated. 

Speaking to WDR ahead of the season’s start, FC Cologne’s managing director Alexander Wehrle said widespread vaccination was the best route back to normality – a message reiterated by Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann. 

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