Dhe number of corona infections in Germany is increasing again. Fear of a second wave of the pandemic and its consequences is growing. After more than a month, Germany’s top virologist, President Lothar Wieler from the Robert Koch Institute, had appeared in front of the cameras for a press briefing on Tuesday morning. “We are in the middle of a rapidly expanding pandemic,” warned Wieler.
In Germany there were 3611 newly recorded diseases in the past seven days. Wieler: “The latest developments in the number of cases make me and everyone at the Robert Koch Institute very concerned.” His fear: this could be the beginning of the dreaded second wave. Nevertheless, the football fans, clubs and the German Football Association (DFB) hope that spectators can again be allowed to play international matches, cup matches and the Bundesliga at the beginning of the new season in September.
In mid-July, the German Football League (DFL) and the DFB set up guidelines for the re-admission of visitors to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd leagues and asked the clubs to draw up their own hygiene concepts based on local conditions in consultation with the health authorities. In addition, mass preventive tests for viewers are discussed. But are they a suitable tool?
Claim: Mass tests allow fans to return to the stadiums.
Rating: According to experts, mass tests are not a suitable means of preventing the coronavirus from spreading in football stadiums and ensuring the safety of spectators.
Facts: Bundesliga club 1. FC Union Berlin made the first foray. DFB President Fritz Keller later mentioned mass tests for visitors before a game as a measure to allow games to be held again at least in front of a limited number of viewers from September onwards. In the ARD “sports show”, the 63-year-old also admitted on Sunday: “I don’t think we can say anything today in the pandemic situation.” Science must specify what is possible.
SPD health expert and epidemiologist Karl Lauterbach is against mass tests of spectators the day before a game. “From a medical and also an economic point of view, it is absurd to take a completely unnecessary risk,” he told the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger”. He suggested that not around 500,000 fans, but more nurses and educators should be tested in autumn.
He also warned that tests as they are being discussed are not meaningful. “It can happen that an infected person cannot detect the virus at the time of the test, but is already contagious later when playing the game.” Up to 30 percent of the tests could also give false negative results.
The Nuremberg pharmacologist Fritz Sörgel sees it similarly. He said in the “Badische Zeitung” about Union Berlin’s initiative to open the An der alten Försterei stadium with its 22,000 seats completely at the start of the Bundesliga: “Apart from whether 22,000 tests can be carried out within 24 hours, it gives you not absolute security. “
The more followers were let in, the more likely it was “that viewers would be positive in exactly those 24 hours before the game, that is, they would have a lot of virus in their bodies that would make the test positive in the first place – and then I could be contagious.” . In addition, there is the error rate when obtaining a smear, especially when everything has to go very quickly.
Virologist Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit pointed out in the “Bild am Sonntag” that a corona test is only a snapshot. It is not excluded “that spectators will still be positive after 24 hours and thus infect other spectators in the stadium”.
Spectators generate 520 million in revenue at professional clubs
The return of the spectators is not only an emotional, but also an economic factor for the clubs. According to the DFL Economic Report 2020 for the 2018/19 season, the income of the 18 Bundesliga clubs from matchday operations amounted to 520.1 million euros. This resulted in a 12.9 percent share of total sales of 4.02 billion euros.
It is understandable that the clubs want their fans back after the Corona ghost games. RB Leipzig hopes that 20,000 spectators can be admitted to home games, Eintracht Frankfurt also mentioned the number of 20,000 visitors, Borussia Dortmund would like 15,000 fans.
In the NDR, scientist Schmidt-Chanasit from the Bernhard Nocht Institute in Hamburg reminded that before the lockdown games were possible corona drivers. “I can only warn one more time: The big outbreaks in Italy or Spain have also been exacerbated by football games and especially by the fans,” he said.
DFL advance will cause controversy among fan organizations
The DFL has already created a guide under which conditions fans are allowed back to the stadiums. Now a uniform approach to important questions is to be decided. Among other things, this sees a ban on standing room and alcohol until October 31 and no guest fans in the stadiums until the end of the year. The league association wants to enforce this in the 1st and 2nd league if a limited number of spectators are admitted to the new season. This is intended to reduce the risk of infection in the corona pandemic. Appropriate proposals from the DFL Presidium will be put to the vote at the virtual Extraordinary General Meeting of the 36 professional clubs next Tuesday. Criticism can be expected from the fan scene.
In its Tuesday statement, the DFL expressly points out that the measures are a temporary adjustment “to make it easier to maintain and monitor compliance with distance and hygiene measures in the stadiums, given the ongoing pandemic situation”.
When selling tickets, the clubs should ensure that infection chains can be traced if necessary. This is intended to support the health authorities. Details of the implementation should be left to the clubs, and a corresponding amendment to the rules of the game should apply until the end of the year.
“Our curve” issues a warning
“It would be conceivable, for example, that a ticket purchaser stores the relevant data when purchasing it and, if a ticket is passed on, that it also records the data of the ticket user with a view to possible subsequent tracking of infection chains,” said the DFL.
The DFL had drawn up guidelines for the return of fans to the stadiums and asked the clubs to develop local concepts. However, she sees a need for coordination “whether there should be a uniform approach for all clubs with regard to certain aspects”. A simple majority is sufficient for the decisions.
The DFL and the clubs must expect resentment from the fan scene in their actions. The alliance “Our Curve” spoke out on Monday, among other things, for the admission of guest fans. The organization also warned against introducing new surveillance technologies “through the back door of health protection”.
When it came to serving alcohol, the DFL pointed out that this is only possible with the express consent of the local authorities. “The DFL’s commitment to maintaining standing room in the stadiums of the Bundesliga and 2nd Bundesliga remains unchanged,” emphasized the DFL. There is also no question that “away trips from fans are an important part of German football culture”. Standing room is considered a particularly sensitive issue, as it has been abolished in some foreign leagues, such as the English Premier League.
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