Coronavirus: Germany’s Bundesliga to resume behind closed doors on 16 May

The champion and league leader Bayern Munich will take action on Sunday, May 17

The Bundesliga will resume behind closed doors on Saturday, May 16 – and is the first European league to restart after the coronavirus shutdown.

One of the games on the day of the relaunch will be the derby between Schalke and Borussia Dortmund.

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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 scheduled for June 27-28.

The German Football Federation (DFL) said the season will resume under strict health protocols that prohibit stadium fans and require players to test Covid-19.

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About 300 people, including players, officials and officials, will be in or around the stadiums during game days.

The league has been suspended since March 13; clubs returned to training in mid-April, with players working in groups.

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Christian Seifert, chief executive of the German Football League (DFL), held a news conference on Thursday, where he said that despite empty stands and other restrictions, "it was crucial to resume the game".

Other updates to come include:

  • In addition to the players and the coaching staff, the referees will also be subject to medical and hygiene regulations.
  • There was no clarification on the question of whether the games were available for free on the air – negotiations are underway with broadcasters.
  • There were 10 positive results from clubs in the two main divisions after the first series of coronavirus tests – and two in the second series.

On Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel eased some restrictions, allowing stores to reopen with the country, with less than 7,000 deaths from coronavirus.

Seifert said, "The interest [globally] it's big. I see reports from around the world that we are the first major league to return. This can only happen because we are privileged to live in one of the most modern healthcare systems in the world.

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"The matches will look different. After the first day, we will all know why we prefer games with the fans. But this is the structure in which we have to operate and I hope the best sport possible within that structure."

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In the meantime, the World Players Association executive committee – representing 85,000 players and athletes in world sport – will meet next week to discuss medical protocols around returning to sport.

He said in a statement: "All proposals need to be assessed calmly and rigorously by the relevant experts, with a clear commitment that the health and safety of players is not negotiable".

Analyze

BBC World Service Sport's John Bennett

It will look, sound and look very different, but there is something very exciting about finally having a start date for the resumption of one of the best leagues in world football.

Christian Seifert, head of the German Football League (DFL), seemed cautious at his press conference, reinforcing the fact that this is a very fragile situation, saying "we are playing on parole" and adding that they almost need to prove that their health and safety concepts are working every day.

A classic between Schalke and Borussia Dortmund is a great way to start on paper, but it will also highlight the lack of fans in these big games and the disappointment of some fan groups in Germany about the possibility of the Bundesliga continuing without them.

The eyes of the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A will be firmly fixed on these first games – because if Germany can make this work, perhaps the other major leagues in Europe also have a better chance.

Complete equipment list

Saturday

Augsburg v Wolfsburg

Borussia Dortmund v Schalke

Eintracht Frankfurt against Borussia Monchengladbach

Fortuna Dusseldorf vs Paderborn

Hoffenheim against Hertha Berlin

RB Leipzig / Freiburg

Sunday

Cologne x Mainz

Union Berlin against Bayern Munich

Monday

Werder Bremen against Bayer Leverkusen

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