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Bundesliga: German soccer returns but not as we know it

The country has 174,098 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 7,861 deaths, according to the latest figures, but the German Football Federation (DFB) has worked closely with league organizers (DFL) and hopes that strict safety protocols will protect those involved in matches.

If the measures work, this could provide a model for other sports to resume. If not, questions will be asked as to why football came back so early.

Philipp Köster, editor-in-chief of the football publication “11 Freunde”, says it more frankly – German football is on “parole”.

“This is an experiment with an unknown outcome,” Köster told CNN’s Fred Pleitgen.

“It could indeed happen that we see two weeks or more of football and everything is canceled […] if there are a lot of infections or serious infections. “

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Bayern Munich forward Thomas Mueller wears a face mask as he leaves a training session.

New football look

It is an experience that will not involve any supporter, the element that provides sport with its appearance and emotion. As the saying goes: football without supporters is nothing.

The high-flying German division regularly attracts an average of 43,300 people per match, but no more than 322 will be able to attend matches until the end of the season, the matches having to be played behind closed doors.

The privileged few authorized to attend the matches will then be divided into three distinct zones: the exterior and interior of the stadium as well as the stands.

Only 98 people (including players, coaches and referees) will be allowed on the field itself with 115 others in the stands (including journalists, hygiene staff and emergency services) and 109 others outside (mainly security guards).

A schedule will limit who is allowed to enter the stadium at any time, including the staggered arrival of teams approximately 90 minutes before kick-off.

“The games will be different,” said DFL CEO Christian Seifert. “After the first day, we will all know why we prefer fan games.”

“But this is the framework in which we have to operate, and I expect the best sport possible within this framework.”

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Borussia Moenchegladbach have filled their stadium with fan cuts.

Generalized tests

At first glance, the LDF guidelines for the new football standard seem to have covered all eventualities.

Everyone must practice social distancing, and players must alternate their time spent in the locker room, while staying 1.5 meters from each other and continuing to wear a face mask.

Hygiene staff will be on hand to disinfect the locker room once the players have left for the field where pre-match handshakes and team photos are among the jokes discarded.

The balls themselves will be disinfected before the match and the ball boys (from 16 years old) will continue to clean them during the matches.

The same goes for players and coaches on the substitutes’ bench who must sit in at least one seat from each other and continue to wear masks if possible.

Teams will now be able to use five substitutions per game to deal with the list of crowded games.

Before Saturday afternoon, all teams were isolated in seven-day training camps where the LDF demanded equally strict security protocols.

Players will be tested at least twice a week throughout the season, requiring a negative result before traveling to the stadium to play.

However, the decision to bring football back to Germany was toughened this week after two Dynamo Dresden players tested positive for the coronavirus.

Dresden’s second-level match against Hanover on May 17 will not be disputed accordingly, and the entire team has quarantined for two weeks.

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Billion audience

A limited number of television crews will be allowed inside the stadium with a potentially huge global audience eager to experience the competition for months.

“The Bundesliga is now the first major league in the world to return to the game,” Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, managing director of Bayern Munich, told Sport Bild.

“And if the Bundesliga is the only league in the world to be broadcast on television, I guess we will have audiences of billions of people around the world.”

DFL Seifert previously said clubs in the country’s top two leagues could lose a total of $ 823 million if the season could not be finished due to loss of television rights, advertising and sales of tickets.

On the field, there will be a lot of interest in what promises to be a fascinating end to a season with everything to play for.

Reigning champion Bayern Munich leads the table but has a number of rivals chasing him.

Borussia Dortmund are only four points behind second place, with RB Leipzig and Borussia Mönchengladbach also within reach of the title with nine games to go.

Meanwhile, Werder Bremen and SC Paderborn are anchored at the foot of the league, but can both reach safety.

The DFL has confirmed that there will be relegation to the first two divisions if the season can be ended and the deadline for the season may be extended beyond June 30 if necessary.

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