Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - German plan to bring back fans to football faces gov’t skepticism




German plan to bring back fans to football faces gov’t skepticism

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
German football fans are hungry to return to the games, but a plan to allow that will likely be dashed. AFP

German plan to bring back fans to football faces gov’t skepticism

Germany's health minister Jens Spahn said Monday he opposes the Bundesliga’s plans for the partial return of football fans to stadiums next season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Thousands of spectators in the stadiums – that is not suitable given the current infection rate,” Spahn wrote on Twitter.

“Now is not the time to take any avoidable risks.”

Last week, the clubs in Germany’s top two leagues agreed to Bundesliga plans to allow the partial return of fans when the new league season begins on September 18.

The plans included clubs selling personalised tickets which could be traced, access only to seated areas of the ground, no alcohol sales at games until October and a ban on away fans until 2021.

However, the proposal by the German Football League (DFL) first needs approval by the government, and Spahn’s comments dashed those hopes.

“The DFL concept is good in theory. However, in the pandemic, what is decisive is the practice in everyday life,” Spahn added.

“We feel that we must remain vigilant.

“In the current situation, spectators in the stands would send the wrong signal.”

Germany’s top-flight clubs lose several million euros in match revenue for every home game played behind closed doors.

However, the number of coronavirus infections is rising slightly in Germany with 436 new cases in the last 24 hours. Around 9,000 virus-related deaths have been recorded in the country.

Bavaria’s state premier Markus Soeder echoed Spahn’s sentiments.

“I cannot imagine it and I am extremely sceptical about it,” he said of the DFL’s plans, worrying that seeing football fans back in stadiums would send a “devastating signal” to German society.

‘Super-spreader fears’

Earlier in the day, Dilek Kalayci, chairman of the conference of Germany’s health ministers which met Monday, indicated the plan was unlikely to be approved.

“We do not intend to pass a resolution on the DFL’s hygiene concept,” Kalayci told newspaper Berliner Morgenpost before the conference.

“Professional football is not at the top of the health ministers’ priority list.”

The final nine rounds of league matches last season were all played behind closed doors.

Fritz Keller, the president of the German FA, had raised the prospect of mass testing of spectators next season, but Kalayci torpedoed the idea.

“The idea that, among other things, all fans in stadiums could be tested is viewed critically by the majority of ministers,” Kalayci said.

“Especially because before and after the game, no one can exclude and control large crowds of people and alcohol consumption.

“We currently need the testing capacity in many other areas - for example, schools, daycare centres, nursing homes, hospitals and people returning from travel.”

Meanwhile, the Marburger Bund, the association and trade union for doctors in Germany, also warned against a return of fans to the stadiums.

“The danger of a mass infection would be real,” chairperson Susanne Johna told the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung newspaper.

“If we are unlucky, a ‘super-spreader’ would sit among the fans and the virus will spread like wildfire.

“Someone may not have any symptoms at all yet, but still his throat is already full of the virus.

“And with the shouting and cheering, it can happen in a flash.”

Johna says she has sympathy for the league’s attempts to bring spectators back, “but the fact that their concept would prevent infections is unrealistic, in my opinion.”

She doubts fans can be expected to keep their distance during matches, because when a goal is scored, “you hug each other and don’t think of corona”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hungarian exposes 90 to Covid in Siem Reap

    The Ministry of Health has discovered 90 people who have been exposed directly or indirectly to a Hungarian man infected with Covid-19. They all are required to quarantine at home and the hospital. The ministry is searching for other affected people. Among the 90, one is the

  • PM warns of ‘new Cold War’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the possibility of a so-called new Cold War has become a significant concern and that all countries have to reject outright, any attempt to allow history to tragically repeat itself. He made the remarks in a speech during 75th Session

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped