Dhe time of major events with full stadiums in professional sport runs out again. Due to the ever-worsening corona situation, there is a consensus in politics to ban sold-out stadiums as quickly as possible and to drastically reduce spectator capacities in the national leagues.
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 on Tuesday. 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.
Less than 67,000 at the top game
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 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.
North Rhine-Westphalia’s Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst does not want to commit to this yet, but 67,000 fans – as originally planned – will probably not be allowed to watch the classic Borussia Dortmund against Bayern Munich on Saturday. “The decisive factor is: There can and will not be pictures like the one from the weekend in Cologne,” said Wüst, referring to the Bundesliga game between 1. FC Cologne and Borussia Mönchengladbach. There were 50,000 spectators in the Cologne arena. That caused a lot of criticism. Wüst has not yet decided on a specific number of possible viewers. One will wait for the decisions of the Bund-Länder-Round on Thursday, which will then also be implemented in North Rhine-Westphalia.
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. Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer would like ghost games across the country. “There are still three game days until Christmas, and they should happen without a spectator.”
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. In Hesse, capacity is to be limited to 25 percent in the future. 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.
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 a message from the second division club Werder Bremen, which wants to allow 31,600 spectators on Friday 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. But Bremen’s mayor Andreas Bovenschulte (SPD) announced restrictions on Tuesday.