Sporting world tunes into the Bundesliga to see if German league can pull off a safe return

Sporting world tunes into the Bundesliga to see if German league can pull off a safe return
Bayern's Robert Lewandowski.

LIVE TV sport returns today with games in the German Bundesliga following a two-month shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But, it won’t be football as we know because all games in the remaining nine weeks of the season will be played behind closed doors and there are major restrictions on all involved.

The Germans are the first of Europe’s big five leagues to return and they will have the eyes of the sporting world on them.

It’s not really whether leaders Bayern Munich can maintain their four-point advantage over Jurgen Klopp’s former club, Borussia Dortmund, with Leipzig a further point adrift, but more how they deal with the virus threat.

Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho. Picture: John Walton/PA Wire
Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho. Picture: John Walton/PA Wire

All matches will be protected by a string of measures like players arriving in several team buses to ensure social distancing is maintained.

All, but the players, will be wearing masks and there will be no goal celebrations that we are accustomed to.

Long before today’s welcome return, players were quarantined in hotels and tested regularly, as were coaches and those in the background, as well.

A further test was carried out yesterday and there will be more again after the games. A positive result will mean isolation immediately.

In all there will be just over 300 people allowed into each venue with players, referees and linesmen, medics and a limited number of photographers permitted on the pitch.

The stands will only be occupied by a small group of journalists and tv camera crews though fourth-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach came up with a novel idea.

Around 12,000 fans will have life-size cardboard cut-outs of themselves in place for next week’s home game against Bayer Leverkusen.

Social distancing measures will be observed in dressingrooms and there will be no handshakes or team photos.

Match balls will be disinfected regularly during games while the media’s involvement will be greatly reduced.

Only 10 journalists are permitted per match and there will be no press conferences or mixed zone areas where players mingle with reporters.

Signal Iduna Park, the home stadium of Borussia Dortmund. Picture: AMA/Getty Images
Signal Iduna Park, the home stadium of Borussia Dortmund. Picture: AMA/Getty Images

These are just some of the measures contained in a 51-page presentation by the football authorities to German politicians to get the league up and running again.

Those involved in sport in this country will keep a watching brief not just today but in the coming days to determine the success or otherwise of what is still a risk.

GAA President John Horan spoke impressively and forcefully last weekend when asked about the return of football and hurling, particularly regarding social distancing.

“I can’t see it happening. If social distancing is a priority to deal with this pandemic, I don’t know how we can play contact sport,” he said.

But it was Horan’s take on the responsibility of getting the timing right in terms of a return to playing which struck a chord.

“Our concern has to be the players on the pitch, their families and their work colleagues.

“They are all amateurs and it’s a hobby to them all. I know they take it to very serious level and they have a very professional approach to it, but we can’t risk anything.

“I would hate to think as an organisation that we would have made a decision that would have cost any family a member of their family.”

It’s that last statement which will resonate with everyone not only involved in sport but throughout society as a whole.

It’s the same question that should be uppermost in the thinking of businesses dealing with the public, whether it’s offices, pubs, restaurants, shopping centres or whatever.

Can they guarantee the safety and health of those they come in contact with? That’s the issue.

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