SHARE
COPY LINK

HEALTH

‘Difficult to accept’: Germany’s Bundesliga goes back behind closed doors

The Bundesliga goes back behind closed doors this weekend with Borussia Dortmund leading the complaints against the government's decision to lock out fans in an attempt to help curb record coronavirus numbers.

'Difficult to accept': Germany's Bundesliga goes back behind closed doors
A Bundesliga game in Berlin on October 17th between Hertha BSC and VfB Stuttgart with strict social distancing rules. Photo: DPA

On Friday, Germany reported a record 18,681 new cases of Covid-19 in the previous 24 hours.

Amid measures announced Wednesday, all professional sport, including the Bundesliga, must be played behind closed doors until at least the end of November, a return to the end of last season when terraces had to remain empty.

The clubs can survive on money from the sale of the German Football League's broadcasting rights, but their funds are hit hard by a lack of matchday revenue.

Since the start of the season in mid-September, Germany's top-flight clubs had been allowed to admit small number of fans, providing their hygiene plan was approved by the local health authority.

Dortmund has posted an open letter on their website questioning the decision to again exclude spectators despite having had their 'complex hygiene concept' approved.

“It's difficult to accept that facts do not count,” said the statement.

READ ALSO: Germany's Bundesliga: 'All clubs preparing to host fans for new seasons

“Every spectator in our stadiums was disciplined; nobody was infected in the fresh air.

“However, we accept the situation as it is and continue to do our small part to flatten the curve,”  the club said, urging fans to “keep their distance, wear masks, avoid gatherings and parties”.

Dortmund's home league showdown with Bayern Munich on November 7th will be behind closed doors.

Yet 11,500 fans were allowed to watch a 4-0 home win over Freiburg in early October.

As the rate of infection has risen, so the allowed attendance limit dwindled to just 300 for last Saturday's 3-0 win over Schalke in the Ruhr derby.

Dortmund's stance is backed by a study of large events, published Thursday, which found that if hygiene measures are followed, the risk of infection would be “low to very low overall”.

The results are from August's 'RESTART-19' project when scientists collected data from an indoor concert in Leipzig attended by 1,400 volunteers.

For European champions Bayern Munich, all home games since the pandemic hit Europe in mid-March have been behind closed doors on advice from the local health authority.

Spectators in at a Hamburg match between FC St. Pauli and FC Heidenheim on September 29th. Photo: DPA

Survival

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge says they expect “more than 100 million in lost revenues” this season.

“Across Europe, every club loses between €50 and 200 million in a season that it has to play without spectators,” Rummenigge told German daily Bild last Sunday.

“You can count on five fingers how long a football club can survive that”.

Current Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig are backed by the deep pockets of Austrian energy drinks giants Red Bull.

Commercial director Florian Scholz says they factored a lack of matchday revenue this season in their planning, as all clubs were advised to do by the league, “but that won't work out well over a long period of time”.

Further down the league, Werder Bremen are considering furloughing staff.

“We will be financed through to January, then we will look at our next options,” president Hubertus Hess-Grunewald told Bild.

According to reports, Eintracht Frankfurt expect to have used up cash reserves built up over the last two years by the time the season ends in May.

Champions League sides Borussia Mönchengladbach and RB Leipzig begrudgingly accept the decision to keep fans out.

“I think in extraordinary times, sometimes it's just as important to make a fist in your pocket in the interest of everyone,” said Gladbach sports director Max Eberl.

“It hurts us, but we are not threatened at all, however we know that caterers and also the retail trade are again facing huge problems.”

RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann agrees that something had to be done to curb the sky-rocketing infection numbers.

“Unfortunately, the figures are developing in the wrong direction and we must therefore accept the situation as it is,” said Nagelsmann.

Member comments

  1. Can the majority of supporters, spectators and clubs truly say that they have not been on holiday, parties, weddings, celebrations, bars/clubs/restaurants etc. and always kept their social distance over the last few months? If not?
    Do not complain now.
    The government is doing the correct thing to protect people and support us.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

COVID-19 RULES

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now

SHOW COMMENTS