Bundesliga gets the okay to resume with restrictions


Season set to restart on May 15th.

The DFL got government approval to resume both the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 seasons with provisions set in place in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After weighing up all the arguments, the DFL Executive Committee decided today by circular letter to resume play in the Bundesliga and 2nd Bundesliga from 15 May 2020,” DFL CEO Christian Seifert said in a statement to clubs in advance of government approval obtained by Bild

Under the DFL’s plan to protect the health of all involved, the games are only to go ahead after players have undergone a sufficient quarantine period in the form of training camps. Originally, that period had been 14 days, but one week may also be possible with regular testing and negative test results. Ten players out of 1,700+ from the 36 clubs in Germany’s top two flights had tested positive for the virus. All remaining matches will most likely be played in front of empty stadia.

The news comes as the rate of new COVID-19 cases in Germany dropped below 1,000 per day for the first time since mid-March. At the time of this reporting, Germany has had 168,162 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 7,275 deaths, and 137,696 reported recoveries.

The move is indeed not without controversy. Karl Lauterbach, a prominent health expert with Chancellor Merkel’s coalition partners, the Social Democrats, slammed the decision as “disappointing and wrong,” saying it was driven by commercial interests. 

There is also concern among players regarding the leagues’ resumption. FC Köln midfielder Birger Verstraete expressed his concerns to Belgian TV only to backtrack and Hertha Berlin’s Salomon Kalou streamed a live video on Facebook that revealed players fist-bumping and socialdistancing rules not being observed on Monday. Fans of clubs have also expressed opposition citing this as a sign of fundamental flaws within the game.

There is a financial angle to resuming play. The DFL had ensured the liquidity of its 36 clubs until the end of June by reaching a deal with media partners over the final TV payment, but those funds are contingent on the completion of the season which has nine rounds left in both tiers though Eintracht Frankfurt and Werder Bremen still have an additional match to play due to the former’s campaign in the Europa League. German reports state that clubs could lose up to €300 million should the season not be completed.

After the top flight was suspended on March 12th, Bayern Munich lead the table by four points over Borussia Dortmund. Bayern are seeking their eighth consecutive league title. Werder Bremen and Paderborn are in the automatic relegation places with the former four points adrift of 16th-place Fortuna Dusseldorf with a match in hand.

In the “Zweite”, Arminia Bielefeld holds a six-point advantage over second-place VfB Stuttgart who themselves are a point clear of Hamburg SV for the second automatic promotion spot.

THOUGHTS:  The sad reality for most sports leagues around the world is that economics may drive decisions to resume much more than public safety even though Ligue 1 and the Dutch Eredivisie have decided to cancel their seasons. We do not know of Serie A’s or La Liga’s plans though we do know there is a lot of chaos as to whether the English Premier League and the three EFL divisions below it are going to resume this season.

Plus, there is the notion that this could all go wrong should players and/or officials start getting ill with the virus and the league and the game would be right back to square one. We do hope that every precaution is taken to protect the health of players and officials as the league resumes. However, absent an effective treatment or a vaccine at this time, social distancing and other preventative measures are paramount to stem the spread of the virus. While we focus on that, we will also test the notion that football without fans is nothing starting on May 15th.


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