Bundesliga returns with masked substitutes and dressing room distancing
With the Bundesliga set to become the first major league to resume after coronavirus suspension, here is everything you need to know about what to expect of football’s return.
On the 13 March the Bundesliga became the last of Europe’s top five leagues to suspend all fixtures but after a 61-day hiatus it will become the first to restart. Germany has banned crowd-attended large events until 24 October but Chancellor Angela Merkel has allowed the country’s top two football league to resume.
Dr Tim Meyer has been part of the German Football League’s (DFL) coronavirus task force and spoke to bundesliga.com to outline the steps being taken to ensure the league’s return is as safe as possible.
Central to the Bundesliga’s plan is a rigorous programme of testing to ensure that any cases can be immediately isolated. Dr Meyer explains the extensive testing measures:
“Players, as well as staff members, are tested twice per week throughout the entire season. When there is a match, players are tested on the day prior to the match, and when they play a week with two matches, then they are tested on both days just before the matches. This is true for both players as well as all staff members.”
Germany’s weekly testing capacity of 860,000 ranks among the best in the world, but the DFL has confirmed that they will be paying for private testing so not to increase the burden on public health.
All Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga games will be played behind closed doors with a 300-person limit put on each event. Of that 300, around 200 will be made up of players, coaches, officials, medics and broadcasters who will be allowed into the stadium, with another 100, primarily security staff, posted outside.
For the big derby match between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke this weekend, extra police will be stationed around the Westfalenstadion to ensure fans do not congregate outside.
In a speech given on Monday Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans to stick to social distancing rules to keep the country’s R-rate (rate of infection) below 1. Although that will be difficult to maintain consistently, Dr Meyer describes the measures being put in place to ensure the risk of infection at matches is kept as low as possible:
“In a stadium, players and other spectators are put into three different zones. One zone is solely for the players and staff members. Another is mainly for the TV stuff, as well as security personnel, and the third zone is for all the others who have functions around match play.