Ghost games in the national leagues, standstill in the amateur sector: German sport is being hit hard by the tightened corona measures by the federal and state governments. In view of the increasing number of infections, professional games, including football, are only allowed to be played without spectators in November; leisure and amateur sports are largely prohibited.
This emerges from the decision paper following the consultations between Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the Prime Ministers. “We do not want to get into a national health emergency,” said Merkel on Wednesday during a press conference, explaining the restrictions on public life. “We need a national effort in November.” They are “tough measures that we have adopted. They are burdensome measures for the whole country.”
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The 36 clubs in the German Football League do not have to fully adapt to a new situation: In recent weeks, due to the increasing number of infections, there have been numerous games with no or only a few hundred spectators. On Wednesday, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Schalke 04 announced that no fans would be admitted next weekend.
A comprehensive hygiene concept enabled professional football to resume games with ghost games last spring. For the current season, the DFL, like all sport, received the green light from politics to be allowed to use at least up to 20 percent of the total capacity of the stadiums. This could only be used in very few cases. In a statement, the DFL called the renewed ban on spectators “regrettable”.
Several Bundesliga officials recently emphasized that ghost games are the minimum for the economic survival of the clubs. “If we don’t have them any more, then it will be very tight,” said Borussia Dortmund’s managing director Hans-Joachim Watzke on ZDF. In the other professional leagues, on the other hand, things are already looking gloomy.
In basketball, handball, ice hockey or volleyball, the clubs are much more dependent on spectator income. The arrangement of the ghost games “actually contradicts what we discussed with the heads of the state chancellery last week,” said Frank Bohmann, managing director of the handball Bundesliga on Wednesday of the German press agency. “The tenor was still clear: Sport has done its homework and does not contribute to the infection process.” He announced that he would seek “dialogue” again.
The effects on amateur sport are likely to be extreme. Fitness studios, swimming pools and fun pools will be closed. The company is closed, clubs are no longer allowed to train. Individual sports, such as jogging alone, are still allowed. Alfons Hörmann, President of the German Olympic Sports Confederation, had hoped that politicians would have a “sure instinct” on Tuesday.
“From the 90,000 clubs as a unique” social filling station network “in Germany to top-class sport, all those responsible have been highly disciplined and exemplary in coping with the pandemic,” he said. In the “difficult phase now ahead, sport can and will continue to be part of the solution, not the problem”. The federal and state governments apparently did not follow this line of argument.