Setbacks like Dresden are expected during restart, says Dortmund CEO

By Klaus Bergmann, dpa

Incidents like second division Dynamo Dresden having to miss games were expected to happen during German football’s resumption, Borussia Dortmund chief executive Hans Joachim Watzke said on Sunday.

The Bundesliga and German second tier will resume next weekend after a two-month suspension because of the coronavirus outbreak. But Dresden will not be able to play after the local health authority told the club on Saturday the whole team must go into quarantine for 14 days after two players tested positive.

Last Wednesday, the government gave the green light for professional football to restart under a strict virus testing regime and with fans banned from the stadiums.

“We had to reckon with the fact that the rest of the season would not be without problems,” Dortmund’s Watzke told the Funke Media Group in reference to bottom side Dresden’s quarantine.

“The tests and the results are also a sign of our transparency.”

Two Dresden matches are now set to be postponed but Watzke said there is flexibility in the new schedule.

“We have planned extra matchdays for this eventuality,” he said.

The return of German professional football can help improve the country’s mood amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to the national team’s psychologist.

“I can well imagine that these last nine matchdays will also have a special appeal, both for the players and for the many millions for whom the Bundesliga is also a kind of pace-setter and signals normality, so to speak,” German Football Federation (DFB) psychologist Hans-Dieter Hermann told dpa.

The 59-year-old, on Joachim Loew’s backroom team when Germany won the World Cup in 2014, believes the players will be able to cope with the unusual circumstances of behind closed door games.

He even believes some players will prefer to play in an empty stadium because they will “feel less pressure as there is hardly any one present and they therefore perhaps even play more freely.”

The players also hold the key to the resumption of the season.

The German Football League (DFL) position is that if there are positive tests at a club, only those players must be isolated. However, the local health authorities have the final say and that is why they ordered the whole Dresden team into a two-week quarantine.

So far players appear to be willing to go along with the situation with teams having returned to contact training – despite the rest of Germany still having to abide by social distancing rules.

Some players have expressed fears of becoming infected and risking their family’s health, while others such as Union Berlin defender Neven Subotic believe they should have been a part of the decision.

“We have no seat at the table, we were not consulted,” he told German radio.

A change whereby some players refuse to play cannot be ruled out.

Bayern Munich midfielder Leon Goretzka is worried for a different reason. Professionals in other sports in Germany have bemoaned the impression that football is being prioritized with no decisions yet taken on the resumption of their leagues.

“This is also a matter of sensitivity, and it is important to deal with the situation responsibly,” Goretzka told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

DFL chief Christian Seifert is mindful of all the problems associated with the resumption.

“What you will see is an absolutely emergency version of the Bundesliga,” he told ZDF. “The impression has been created that the Bundesliga will now be like before, but this will not be the case.

“The last thing on my mind right now is putting on a show.”

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