After a very long wait, live football is gradually coming back to our screens. The Euphoria and excitement can be felt as football fans react to this development. Admist the currently ravaging Coronavirus pandemic, the German Bundesliga is the first top flight European league to receive permission to resume sporting actions. The famous German league officially returned to action Yesterday, Saturday 16th May. Moreover, it is not without strict guidelines and restrictions.
As part of the measures to curtail the Covid-19 spread in the country, football matches would be played behind closed doors. The Players and coaches have been under quarantine for the past few weeks and must also follow some stringent hygiene guidelines which include maintaining social distancing with the rest of the inhabitant of their respective host community.
The league saw the need to resume in order for financial struggling team to recover. If they are able to complete the nine remaining rounds of matches by June 30, clubs could receive around 300 million euros ($324 million) in money from television contracts. The DFL has put in place the mass testing of players and staff.
Teams will arrive at stadiums in several buses in order to meet social distancing requirements inside the vehicles. Once play begins, players have been warned not to shake hands or embrace to celebrate goals, while substitutes and coaches on the bench must wear protective masks. There are also concerns that fans will try to approach stadiums to support their teams from afar. Thus millions of fans are expected to watch the games from home.
Matches that before would have hosted about 80,000 spectators saw no attendance this Saturday when Borussia Dortmund hosted Schalke 04 in the Ruhr Derby in Signal Iduna Park. The match ended 4-0 in favour of Borrusia Dortmund with the star boy, Erling Haaland delivering goals and assist as usual. The Dortmund players after the game before leaving the pitch moved in unison to salute the empty seats in the stand as though there were large crowd in attendance. When asked why such gesture was made, the 19 year old goal poacher, Haaland replied the Journalist saying; ‘why not?’
Both the Coach and Chief Executive have reacted to the silent stadium mentioning that it is a “very strange” and “surreal” experience. According to the Coach, there is no shouts, claps and show of appreciation when the players make dribbles, superb pass, nice tackles or even a decent save. no doubt the sides missed their fans. But in as much as the game is beautified by the presence of the crowd, it is still not ripe for fans to return to the stands. Germany has suffered far fewer deaths from coronavirus outbreak than other large European countries but it is still too dangerous for crowds to return.
Dortmund currently sits at second place on the log. the victory over Schalke tightened their chase on league leaders Bayern Munich who will play later today. Bayern Munich will resume their quest for an eighth successive Bundesliga title when they play in the capital against Union Berlin. Bayern were four points clear at the top of the table when the season was suspended in March.
Other Football leagues who had also suspended their leagues and are yet to cancel are going to be looking out to the success of the DFL to determine hoe effective their resumption plan is. Clubs in England, Spain and Italy, where leagues are weeks away from returning to action, will be watching to see how the weekend’s games go.
“The whole world will be looking at Germany to see how we get it done… If we manage to ensure that the season continues, it will send a signal to all leagues.” Bayern coach Hansi Flick said.
Reported by Ola-lawal Muzzamil,