Frankfurt / Main (AP) – The controversy over the reintroduction of fans into professional football stadiums has intensified into a conflict between the states in East and West before the start of the DFB Cup.
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania allows up to 7,500 fans for Hansa Rostock’s first round match against Bundesliga promoted VfB Stuttgart on September 13, Saxony-Anhalt approved about 5,000 visitors for the game between 1. FC Magdeburg and Darmstadt 98 and Chemnitzer FC in May before 4600 spectators play against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. On the other hand, most clubs in Western countries are currently only allowed to allow a few hundred fans into the arenas – if at all. A nationwide scheme for fan return should not be in effect until October.
“It is a good, courageous and very positive start for the sport,” said Sport Minister Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Stefanie Drese (SPD) after a cabinet meeting in Schwerin. “We have by far the lowest number of infections,” she said. In addition, the clubs presented “excellent concepts”.
Head of state Manuela Schwesig (SPD) had previously rejected the demands of her colleagues from Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) and Markus Söder (CSU), for a nationwide uniform approach. “If they had low infection rates in their country and high numbers in the east, the two would have opened stadiums long ago,” she told the “Mirror.”
1. FC Union Berlin had already created facts in the test match against 1. FC Nürnberg on Sunday with 4500 spectators in the once divided city. RB Leipzig wants to start around 8,500 fans for the Bundesliga next week against FSV Mainz 05, Hertha BSC around 4,000 in the first home game of the league.
Regardless of the approval of the considerable number of fans in Rostock, fans of various sizes are allowed in the stands in many places at the DFB Cup duels. The Corona regulations in individual countries do not only apply. The local health authorities have the final say. According to Rhineland-Palatinate restrictions, Bundesliga club FSV Mainz 05 should have allowed only 350 spectators on Friday to play the cup match against TSV Havelse. The local government granted access to 1,000 followers.
But Mainz is also an example of how fragile the situation is during the pandemic. After two positive corona cases in the previous week, the question was whether and what the preparation for the first round cup match would look like for a few days. However, after further negative tests, the all-clear could be given and team training could resume on Tuesday. The two professionals who tested positive are still in quarantine at home.
Havelse is one of a total of nine amateur clubs that gave their cup opener house rights to a professional club because they could not comply with the corona-related measures and required regulations – or were in danger of losing. The regional league team 1. FC Schweinfurt 05 will play against FC Schalke 04 on Sunday in front of 300 fans in the Veltins Arena, which can accommodate about 62,000 spectators. The atmosphere in the Willy Sachs Stadium, which is a quarter the size, would certainly be more homely.
The “home game” for the 1. FC Düren players in the Allianz Arena against Bayern Munich will also be an experience. However, the game was postponed to October 15 due to the Champions League victory. Until then, the likelihood of admitting a larger number of viewers could increase.
However, Bavarian head of state Söder confirmed that nationwide regulation of the return of fans in the Bundesliga is still a long time coming. “In professional sports, I estimate, we will meet again with all the federal states over the next two weeks and try to make a reliable schedule,” he said after a cabinet meeting in Munich. The scheme should therefore apply to basketball, ice hockey and handball.
The fans were looking forward too soon to the fact that after permission from the German Football Association (DFB) a beer will be served everywhere for the cup matches. Even politics in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania goes too far: there is an absolute alcohol ban at the match in Rostock.