German professional football is threatened with ghost games again
In Bavaria the stadiums were completely full – and will soon be completely empty again. Other federal states are likely to follow. The time of major events ends once more due to the pandemic. The question remains: is there a nationwide regulation for the national leagues?
Dhe time of major events with full stadiums in professional sport runs out again. Because of the worsening corona situation, there is a consensus in politics to ban sold-out stadiums as soon as possible and to drastically reduce spectator capacities in the national leagues again.
At the conference call between the federal and state governments with the executive chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and her designated successor Olaf Scholz (SPD) on Tuesday, the union-led federal states spoke out in favor of only allowing a third of the capacity to be used at major events. There have not yet been any resolutions, details for tougher measures in the corona pandemic should be worked out by Thursday.
Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) is even calling for ghost games in the Bundesliga until the end of the year. “When Christmas markets are closed, it is not appropriate to have full stadiums,” said the CSU politician in a statement. It is questionable, however, whether there are other federal states, where the incidences are much lower than in Bavaria. “We’re trying to do that again across Germany, but we’d go it alone in Bavaria at this point,” Söder continued.
In Bavaria, where there were 75,000 fans in the fully occupied Munich arena at the beginning of the month, occupancy is currently only allowed at 25 percent. In Saxony, which is also badly affected by the pandemic, there is even professional sport without an audience, Baden-Württemberg has announced such a step. Interior Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) can also imagine ghost games in Lower Saxony. “From next week onwards, the regulation will also provide, in case of doubt, to go down to a capacity limit of 25 percent or even to play ghost games,” said Pistorius in Hanover.
Bundesliga top game affected
Games without spectators are not yet the big topic in North Rhine-Westphalia, but 67,000 fans – as originally planned – will probably not be able to watch the classic Borussia Dortmund against Bayern Munich on Saturday. For the time being, the regulations will probably differ from state to state. In the second and third waves of the pandemic a good year ago, the game was played without fans for around six months across the board. Then came the gradual easing, in late summer the stadiums were allowed to fill up again.
The hope that vaccination progress and strict admission rules such as 2G (vaccinated and convalescent) could make long-term major events possible has not come true after the upcoming decisions by top politicians. There are also said to be severe restrictions for major events in Berlin. The traditional Christmas singing at Union Berlin on December 23rd has already been canceled.
In North Rhine-Westphalia, where 50,000 people saw the Cologne derby against Gladbach without gaps and many without masks on Saturday, opinion has changed. For Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU), the scenes of full stadiums and filling intensive care units in Germany do not go together. “And we will also tackle things like that,” announced Wüst on ARD. SPD parliamentary group leader Thomas Kutschaty told Deutschlandfunk that such major events should no longer take place in view of the current infection situation.
Distortion of competition in football
The previous differences between ghost games (Saxony) and full capacity in other federal states create strange situations. The fair competition is touched when some clubs play in front of empty and other clubs in front of full stands. In addition, contradicting signals are sent to the population. In Saxony there is a state of emergency, in North Rhine-Westphalia the world is still okay.
This also fits in with a message from second division Werder Bremen, who will admit 31,600 spectators on Friday (6.30pm) against the Erzgebirge Aue, but no people from “regions with high incidences”. This primarily refers to the federal states of Saxony, Thuringia and Bavaria.
“On the basis of the police order to be expected, we must avoid the travel movements of Werder fans, but also supporters of Erzgebirge Aue from the severely affected regions,” said club president Hubertus Hess-Grunewald.
Bremen’s Mayor Andreas Bovenschulte (SPD) wants to consult with the second division club on Wednesday. “There can be no full stadium,” he said on Tuesday after the federal-state talks with a view to the game on Friday. He tends to follow a restrictive course in order to avoid risks. “There must be restrictions.”
He could imagine the 2G regulation, i.e. admission only for vaccinated and convalescent people, even with mask compulsory. “I would like to discuss this with Werder in the light of today’s discussion. That has to be practicable, of course. ”Ultimately, Werder will only be affected by next Friday’s game, the last home game in Bremen this year.