Mon | Jan 18, 2021

Bundesliga to resume on May 16

Published:Sunday | May 17, 2020 | 9:11 AM
Rain clouds draw over the Veltins Arena and the rolled-out pitch of Bundesliga club FC Schalke 04 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on Wednesday, April 29.
Rain clouds draw over the Veltins Arena and the rolled-out pitch of Bundesliga club FC Schalke 04 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on Wednesday, April 29.

BERLIN, Germany (AP):

THE BUNDESLIGA football season will resume on May 16 in empty stadiums, picking up right where it left off two months ago amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Yesterday’s announcement comes one day after clubs were told the season could restart following a meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors.

“Everyone has to be clear. We’re playing on probation,” German football league Managing Director Christian Seifert said. “I expect everyone to live up to this responsibility. Our concept is designed to catch infections early.”

Seifert said the return of football was because of the success the country’s leaders and health officials have had in response to the outbreak.

Johns Hopkins University says Germany has had a high number of COVID-19 infections – nearly 170,000 by yesterday – with about 7,000 deaths, a lower number compared to elsewhere.

The country’s relative success in combating the virus has been attributed to early testing, a robust health service and strict lockdown measures that are now being loosened.

“That we’re allowed to play again boils down to German politics for managing this crisis, and the health system in Germany,” Seifert said. “If I were to name the number of tests that I was asked about in teleconferences with other professional leagues, with American professional leagues, with clubs from the National Football League, the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball and others, and I tell them how many tests are possible in Germany, they generally check, or there’s silence, because it’s just unimaginable in the situation over there.”

Only about a third of Germany’s large testing capacity of almost one million a week is being currently used, said Lars Schaade, the deputy head of the Robert Koch Institute.

Though the French league has already been cancelled, the Bundesliga’s return has given hope to football officials in Spain, Italy and England that they may yet also finish their seasons.