Coronavirus: Germany’s Bundesliga to resume this month, says Angela Merkel

Bayern Munich leads the Bundesliga table by five points

The German Bundesliga season could resume this month, Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed.

It will be Europe's first major league to return to competition, with a resumption date to be confirmed by the German Football League (DFL) on Thursday.

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All games will be played behind closed doors.

With nine games remaining, Bayern Munich are at the top of the table, four points above Borussia Dortmund.

Bayern President Karl Heinz Rummenigge said: "I would like to thank politicians for today's decision. [and for] the opportunity to end the Bundesliga season.

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"Now, we are looking forward to resuming the game, preferably from mid-May. This ensures that sporting decisions are made on the pitch.

"I ask everyone involved to follow the requirements, which are the basis for resuming the games, in an exemplary and extremely disciplined manner".

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Christian Seifert, chief executive of DFL, added: "Today's decision is good news for the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2.

"It is associated with a great responsibility for clubs and their staff to implement medical and organizational requirements in a disciplined manner.

"Games without spectators are not the ideal solution for anyone. In a crisis that threatens the very existence of some clubs, however, it is the only way to keep the leagues in their current form."

The announcement comes a day after clubs in the two main German divisions returned 10 positive results from 1,724 coronavirus tests.

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DFL had warned that many teams in the first division would be in a "threatening to existence" financial position if play were not resumed in June.

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Players returned to training last month, with the DFL initially saying the league would be ready to return on May 9.

Germany has banned large crowded events until October 24, so the games will be behind closed doors, but DFL has developed a health and safety plan that would serve only about 300 people or close to the field during matches, to minimize the risk of infection.

According to official data, just under 7,000 people died in Germany from coronavirus, a much smaller number than in other Western European countries, including the United Kingdom, Italy, France and Spain.

Borussia Monchengladbach fans show support with clippings

It was also announced on Wednesday that the Turkish Super Lig will resume on June 12, with the aim of completing the season by the end of July.

The country's football federation president, Nihat Ozdemir, said Turkey plans to host the Champions League final in Istanbul in August, as planned.

The Croatian first division is also ready to resume – without spectators – the cup games to be held on May 30, followed by the league's action on June 6, awaiting government approval.

Analyze

John Bennett, BBC World Service

Over the years, we expect the success of German football on the pitch, but this looks like a victory for its clear, detailed and, above all, collective planning.

On April 23, DFL President Christian Seifert unveiled the league's proposals for behind closed doors, collaborating with five labs and involving about 20,000 tests and appears to have impressed the local and national government.

This was despite some setbacks last week, such as Salomon Kalou's social media video, which showed that he broke the rules of social distance at Hertha Berlin, and the fact that 10 players or team members tested positive for the coronavirus.

The clubs have invested a lot in this and Bayer Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes assured me this week that his players feel safe now that there are tests every three or four days and temperature checks every day when they arrive at the training center. .

They are certainly under pressure to make this work, with vital TV money at stake. A player told me that he felt a duty to play again, because Bundesliga clubs do not have wealthy owners who can save them.

It will be interesting to see if this news can give an extra boost to the Premier League, Serie A and La Liga in their efforts to resume. One thing that the German football authorities have demonstrated is that it needs to be a collective and unified effort by clubs, leagues and players.

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