At least the lawns on the thousands of sports fields in Germany have not been harmed by the mandatory break in the corona pandemic. On the contrary: some fields have not been in such good condition for years. Nevertheless, none of the almost 24,500 clubs want to get used to the sight of orphaned facilities. It is unanimous in the German Football Association (DFB) that the ball should roll across the board for the new season in September. The association presented a model hygiene concept for its amateur teams two weeks ago, which should serve as a guide. President Fritz Keller indicated on Sunday evening that there were still many inconsistencies. “The pandemic situation determines everything, health comes first.” And as far as the admission of viewers is concerned, one could “still say nothing”. Scientists and politicians should explain what is possible.
It is relatively easy for the highest divisions under the care of the DFB: For the Bundesliga for women and the 3rd league for men, the tried and tested concepts of professional football apply in coordination with the German Football League. However, it is much more important for the largest sports association that the base also starts playing again – otherwise the already unstoppable decline in active amateur footballers could accelerate dangerously. Because, at some point, club members will hardly be able to see the fees they pay when they can no longer practice their hobby. As of January 1, 2020, 145 084 teams were registered – that was already a decline of three percent compared to the previous year before the corona crisis.
Heike Ullrich, who is responsible for gaming operations in the association, speaks of a “whole bouquet” of topics for the restart of amateurs, where personnel and money are not unlimitedly available for the implementation of the general conditions necessary in the pandemic situation. »Corona remains a challenge for us. But after the initial experience, we are now better equipped and have built networks, «explains Ullrich. According to the DFB director for clubs, associations and leagues, the aim is that “we really play again from the young child to the national team.” The threat posed by the virus has not disappeared. Also, nobody knows whether a second wave of contagion will roll through the (soccer) country in autumn. Ergo applies: »Football must not trigger any chains of infection, Corona remains a malicious virus. Unfortunately, we have to keep driving on sight, «says Ullrich. A hygiene concept adapted to the local conditions and the game classes is intended to make nationwide game play possible. An early warning system with a kind of traffic light switch is included.
It is not a matter of course that amateurs indulge in the most important minor matter in the world again. DFB Vice President Rainer Koch does a lot of lobbying in politics as an amateur representative, but can’t even promise his Bavarian Football Association a return to normalcy. »The BFV restart plans continue to stipulate that the interrupted 2019/20 season will continue in September. The association’s hygiene concepts required for this are already in the works. Of course, government regulations must really allow this, «Koch recently wrote on his Facebook page. “Nothing is certain yet.” Football games are still only allowed in Bavaria in exceptional cases. Hesse has the green light on August 1st, which is why there is a curious form of test game tourism in the neighboring state of Thuringia. Even district league clubs drive 80 kilometers across the border to play a friendly game. This is just one of many contortions for returning to the square.
Another problem arises from the inflated size of the squadron, because almost everywhere, upgrades but no relegations have been determined. The actually single-track 2nd Bundesliga of the women returns after a vote to a north and south squadron, because otherwise 19 clubs would have played. The U19 and U17 federal leagues therefore only play one simple round. “That would have been up to 34 instead of the usual 26 match days,” explains DFB junior head coach Meikel Schönweitz. “When you start five or six weeks later, there is no other way to do it.” The Regionalliga Südwest, which has recently added 22 clubs, accepts a 42-day rush and a radically shortened winter break.
The federal structure in the DFB, whose five regional and 21 regional associations must submit to the dispositions of the federal states, also complicates the task. An inevitable patchwork of different solutions is emerging, especially when it comes to admitting spectators. Everything boils down to individual decisions by the local authorities and clubs, said DFB boss Keller – just as “the pandemic and disposition situation is.”