Mark Temnycky –
Over the past several months, governments throughout the world have taken measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus. In an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus, shopping malls, restaurants and bars were shut down, and sporting events were suspended. Now the Bundesliga will become the first major league to open its gates.
Football, for the most part, was no different to other walks of life. With the exception of the Belarusian Vysheyshaya Liga, the majority of football leagues suspended their seasons. The Belarusian Vysheyshaya Liga is the only top-flight football in Europe that has continued throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but soon the Belarusians will not be alone.
On 16 May, the German Bundesliga will return. Following a series of meetings between the German Football League and the German Bundestag, these authorities decided that German football could resume, albeit behind closed doors (matches played without fans). You can follow the calendar of the upcoming Bundesliga matches on TV on TVsportguide.
While the coronavirus pandemic has negatively impacted everyone throughout the world, the Germans have responded well to the virus. The Germans ramped up coronavirus testing in January 2020, and thousands of Germans have been tested for the virus per day. Germany also has fewer deaths per capita from the virus than most European countries.
The return to the Bundesliga will bring a variety of viewers, from football fans to government officials and medical professionals, as they anxiously await to see how German football will cope during the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, some of Germany’s European neighbors decided to cancel the remainder of the 2019/20 football season. The Netherlands and France declared that sporting events, including football, could not resume until September 2020. The Belgians have a similar narrative.
What is most challenging during this period is that a protocol has not been established by FIFA nor UEFA on how to proceed during the latter stages of the coronavirus pandemic. While Belarusian football has continued throughout the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, and while the Germans will return to football, the Belgians, Dutch and French will have to wait until next season. The decision by some countries to suspend the remainder of the 2019/20 season will cause a few headaches for UEFA, as French clubs Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique Lyonnaise still remain in UEFA Champions League contention.
Overall, no one is certain what will happen when the German Bundesliga returns. Should the reinstatement of German football be conducted safely, it could potentially serve as a model for other countries throughout the world on how to reintroduce football after they have flattened the curve. On the other hand, if countries force a return without the proper measurements in place, this could lead to the feared second wave of the coronavirus. Time will tell on what will occur.
Mark Temnycky is an AIPS accredited journalist who covers the Ukrainian men’s national team and Ukrainian clubs competing in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League for the Futbolgrad Network. Follow him @MTemnycky