Bielefeld could host Bayern behind closed doors as infections rise

By dpa correspondents

Arminia Bielefeld’s first meeting with Bayern Munich in more than a decade could be played behind closed doors on Saturday due to rising coronavirus infections.

And Hertha Berlin managing director Michael Preetz warned that should the season not be completed amid the global pandemic, the consequences for clubs could be severe.

The seven-day incidence in Bielefeld on Thursday is above the 35 per 100,000 residents limit used by the German football league (DFL) for determining if fans can safely attend games.

“We expect a maximum of 300 or in the worse case no spectators at all,” club spokesperson Daniel Mucha said.

A final decision is expected on Friday. Originally the promoted Bielefeld hope to welcoe 5,460 fans to their first meeting with champions Bayern in 11-and-a-half years.

Chief executive Samir Arabi admited it was a “huge shame” for fans who had long looked forward to such a game. “And a shame too for the players who have done so much in the past season to experience such games.”

Coach Uwe Neuhaus, however, has said his team will remain motivated. “The opponent is called Bayern Munich, that could be seen in the light in the player’s eyes in the preparation,” he said.

In the capital Hertha are continuing to plan for 5,000 fans for Saturday’s game against VfB Stuttgart despite reporting a coronavirus case in their own squad.

The club is in discussions with local authorities but spokesperson Marcus Jung said Hertha are not “insisting” on anything.

Hertha’s 70,000-plus capacity Olympic Stadium, set in large grounds in the west of the city, is considered only a minimal infection risk for limited numbers of fans.

However, midfield newcomer Matteo Guendouzi will have to wait for his Bundesliga debut after going into a 10-day isolation following a positive test while on international duty with France under-21s.

Guendouzi will miss both the match against Stuttgart and the following week’s trip to RB Leipzig.

Hertha said the 21-year-old “has no symptoms and is feeling well.”

Germany is experiencing an increase of coronavirus infections which seems set to severely limit the return of fans to stadiums in the coming weeks, as the government is also imposing more general restrictions in order to avoid another lockdown.

Last season was concluded, after a two-month suspension, behind closed doors as clubs were desperate to protect valuable television contracts in order to meet their financial commitments.

“That we all know: if the season cannot be played to the end, there would be exisitential problems for everyone,” Preetz said.

Borussia Moenchengladbach could also host Wolfsburg behind closed doors at the weekend due to the local infection rate. In their previous home match with Union Berlin last month more than 10,000 fans were allowed to attend.

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