Bundesliga’s plan to return fans to stadia is torpedoed by health authorities

August 11 – Bundesliga clubs have had their hopes dashed by local authorities of allowing fans back into stadiums in time for the new league season that kicks off September 18.

Last week, the 36 clubs in Germany’s top two tiers agreed to a four-point proposal by the German Football League (DFL) which could see fans return to stadiums in small numbers with no away supporters and no standing areas. Other criteria included personalied tickets to track spectators and no alcohol allowed until October.

The final nine rounds of league matches last season were all played behind closed doors and because of a slight rise in cases of Covid-19, health officials are not ready to soften the rules.

“We need to stay vigilant. In the current situation, spectators in the stadiums would be the wrong signal,” Health Minister Jens Spahn tweeted.

Dilek Kalayci, chairman of the conference of Germany’s health ministers which met Monday, agreed. “We do not intend to pass a resolution on the DFL’s hygiene concept,” Kalayci told newspaper Berliner Morgenpost before the conference. “Professional football is not at the top of the health ministers’ priority list.”

And Bavaria’s state premier, Markus Söder, said he cannot imagine fans returning to Bundesliga stadiums from September, as had earlier been hoped.

“I was very much in favour of the start of games without fans and it went very well. But I’m extremely sceptical about stadiums being full at the start of the Bundesliga season. I can’t imagine it at the moment,” Söder told reporters.

DFB chairman Fritz Keller has suggested mass testing for fans to create a bio-secure environment at grounds, but that suggestion was also rejected. “The idea that, among other things, all fans in stadiums could be tested is viewed critically by the majority of ministers,” said Kalayci

“Especially because before and after the game, no one can exclude and control large crowds of people and alcohol consumption.”

“We currently need the testing capacity in many other areas – for example, schools, day care centers, nursing homes, hospitals and people returning from travel.”

Health authorities also fear super spreaders. “The danger of a mass infection would be real,” said chairperson Susanne Johna.  “If we are unlucky, a ‘super spreader’ would sit among the fans and the virus will spread like wildfire.”

Contact the writers of this story, Samindra Kunti at moc.l1600631261labto1600631261ofdlr1600631261owedi1600631261sni@o1600631261fni1600631261 or moc.l1600631261labto1600631261ofdlr1600631261owedi1600631261sni@w1600631261ahsra1600631261w.wer1600631261dna1600631261