Bundesliga restart to be decided next week, government official says

By John Bagratuni, dpa
Berlin (dpa) – A government decision on a possible restart of German Bundesliga football won’t come until next week, according to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun.

Braun told broadcasters NTV on Thursday that Merkel and the prime ministers of the 16 federal states would hold a broader discussion about further easing of coronavirus-related restrictions on May 6.

He said he also expected a decision on the football issue at that Wednesday meeting, naming a planned restart of Bundesliga and second-division football “a sensitive topic.”

Merkel and the state premiers were also set to hold a video conference later Thursday on the country’s response, with social distancing measures set to be extended for another week until May 10.

Some politicians have been supportive of the plans by the German Football League (DFL) to resume the season suspended since Mid-March sometime in May.

The DFL and German Football Federation (DFB) have drawn up an extensive manual on hygiene, social distancing and others areas around such matches.

Testing of Bundesliga and second division players was also to start on Thursday, according to Kicker sports magazine. Kicker said that all teams would have to undergo two tests before team training could take place again.

The possible restart remains controversial but athletes from other sports have backed a Bundesliga return, with former swimming world champion Thomas Rupprath saying “the ball must definitely roll again.”

Edmonton Oilers ice hockey star Leon Draisaitl said: “It would be good for the people at home to have live sport on TV which would be something they could be looking forward to.”

Renowned Austrian psychiatrist Reinhard Haller also said that games behind closed doors would be good for players’ health and fans’ morale.

“Of course it would be better if the psychology of the masses, the full stadium, were added. But in terms of emotional needs, even a game without spectators can do a lot,” Haller said in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Thursday.

The 68-year-old psychiatrist and consultant Haller said that a high level of aggression and frustration had built up in people during the coronavirus pandemic, and that the matches would be a healthy way for players and fans to burn energy and channel their high emotions.

However, he also said he does not like the term “ghost games,” which is the German expression for games behind closed doors.

“Who are the ghosts? The football players, the non-existent spectators or something that hovers over the empty stadium?” he said.

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