The Bundesliga will resume behind closed doors on 16 May, becoming the first European league to restart following the coronavirus shutdown. One of the games on the day of relaunch will be the derby between Schalke and Borussia Dortmund. Champions Bayern Munich, who are four points clear at the top of the table, travel to Union Berlin on Sunday. Most teams have nine games to play, with the final weekend of the season rescheduled for 27-28 June.
The German Football Association (DFB) said the season would resume under strict health protocols that ban fans from the stadium and require players to have Covid-19 testing. About 300 people, including players, staff and officials, will be in or around the stadiums during match days. The league has been suspended since 13 March. Clubs returned to training in mid-April, with players working in groups. Christian Seifert, chief executive of the German Football League, said “it was crucial to resume play” despite empty stands and other restrictions.
Other updates include:
- As well as players and coaching staff, referees will also be subject to medical and hygiene regulations.
- There was no clarification on the issue of matches being available free-to-air in Germany – talks are under way with broadcasters.
- There were 10 positive results from clubs in the top two divisions following the first series of coronavirus tests, and two in the second series.
On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel eased some restrictions, allowing shops to reopen after fewer than 7,000 deaths with coronavirus. Seifert said: “The matches will feel different. After the first matchday, we will all know why we prefer games with fans. But that is the framework we have to operate in and I expect the best possible sport within this framework.” UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said he is “confident that Germany will provide a shining example” to the world of football on how to return to action. “This is a huge and positive step to bringing optimism back to people’s lives. It is the result of constructive dialogue and careful planning between the football authorities and politicians,” he said. Meanwhile, the executive committee of the World Players Association, which represents 85,000 players and athletes across world sport, will meet next week to discuss medical protocols around the return to sport. It said in a statement: “All proposals need to be calmly and rigorously assessed by relevant experts with a clear commitment that player health and safety is not negotiable.”