No spectators in stadiums and halls until the end of October

Berlin (AP) – Markus Söder took a serious look, after which the CSU boss announced the bad news for the Bundesliga and German top sport. Due to the tense pandemic situation in Germany, there will be no major fan return to the stadiums and halls before November.

Söder’s addition that partial approval would be possible “before Christmas” should be of little consolation. Certainly because from 1 October stricter corona rules will apply to travelers returning from risk areas, which can cause new problems, especially for professional football.

“Corona is back in full force in Germany, so we have to face this situation,” said the Bavarian Prime Minister after the more than five-hour political summit with Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders in Berlin. It therefore “makes no sense” to start the 2020/21 Bundesliga season with spectators in mid-September. “It would send the wrong signal with an increasing number of infections”, Söder emphasizes.

At the video conference, the group therefore agreed that a working group at the level of the heads of the state chancellery should work out a proposal to associate with fans at national sporting events for the next two months. In any case, Söder offered the prospect that “small, step-by-step options” could be agreed by the working group, just before Christmas. “There is already a perspective, but not that the stadiums will all be full again.” First of all, one must keep an eye on the development of the number of infections. “There has to be a little bit of visibility to drive,” said Söder.

In general, major events where contact tracing and hygiene compliance are not possible should take place at least until the end of December 2020. Professional football is not affected by this, however, as it has developed a coherent hygiene concept as well as can guarantee contact tracking, for example through personalized tickets. The establishment of the working group is still slowing down the sector with the desired partial admission of viewers.

The restrictions apply not only to football clubs from the Bundesliga to the regional league, but also to the top clubs in handball, basketball and ice hockey and to other sports that rely heavily on spectator income. The Bundesliga season in handball starts on October 1, the basketball players and skate cracks in the German ice hockey league want to start the 2020/21 season in November – each with spectators.

The extent to which at least a few hundred fans will be admitted before October 31 was initially open. The restrictions on participants in such events currently vary greatly across the states.

But professional football is threatened with another problem of possibly even greater magnitude. From October 1, travelers returning from high-risk areas should be able to end a corona quarantine at the earliest with a test from the fifth day after entering Germany. This could have a huge impact on Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 gaming activities, as the clubs supply numerous domestic and foreign national players for international matches.

As things stand, the DFB squad, which plays in Ukraine on October 10, would also be affected. Ukraine is one of the many countries that the Robert Koch Institute has currently identified as a risk area. In the rest of the season, games in the Champions League and Europa League could take place in risk areas, which would then have consequences for the Bundesliga clubs.

The industry’s hopes for some bit of normalcy are initially not fulfilled, although there is certainly prominent support for plans to return fans. Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer spoke out for the admission of at least a limited number of spectators into the Bundesliga stadiums. “The population does not understand when many people are allowed to drive in a small space in local transport, but a football match with few spectators and long distances should not be possible,” said the CSU politician of the Augsburger Allgemeine. Nothing will come of this for the time being.

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