Football column: Can Omikron even provide another Bundesliga break?

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The unbridled Omikron wave is causing great uncertainty in German football: will the clubs get the infections under control? Given the number of cases, are you still in danger of almost empty sets for months to come? And can missing PCR tests even jeopardize gaming activities? The football section.

Annoyed, annoyed, frustrated – that’s how you can sum up the new 3G of the Bundesliga. The resumption of game operations for empty or near-empty levels is currently causing great concern among all concerned about how to proceed in the third pandemic second half.

“If there’s no one in such a huge stadium, that’s annoying,” said Freiburg coach Christian Streich, given the guest appearance for up to 750 spectators at Dortmund’s Signal-Iduna-Park, which has 81,360 seats. And Cologne coach Steffen Baumgart said ahead of the equally poorly attended home game against FC Bayern: “I think that’s pointless. The explanations I’ve heard so far sound smart, but they’re all nonsense! The current infection process has nothing to do with football.”

The responsible state governments see it differently and that is why they have decided to return the ghost games for Christmas during the Prime Minister’s conference with the Chancellor.
Instead, small states returned in the new year, making things worse: everyone makes their own rules, albeit at a low level and with often incomprehensible upper limits.

Bundesliga: ghost games or not? Small States are back

For example, Saxony-Anhalt admits 7,500 spectators to the match in the third division between Halle and Türkgücu Munich (50 percent of a maximum of 15,000 visitors allowed), in Berlin that is a maximum of 3,000, in Saxony now 1000 after zero, in Lower Saxony, Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate 500, in Hesse 250 and in Bavaria still zero.

For the future chairman of the supervisory board of DFL, Hans-Joachim Watzke, this patchwork is a sign of pure “symbolism”, as he explained in the mirror.

“It is now not about filling the stadiums, that would be a completely wrong signal. But I think that ten percent of the stadium capacity is appropriate. I even think that ten percent is exclusively increased,” said the BVB boss. whose club scored only 0 against Freiburg. 0.9 percent of his seats: “With the 8,000 spectators here, the chance of contamination would be extremely low, and frankly everyone knows that. But football is used for symbolic politics. Explain to me why concert halls with 750 people twice a every year and a capacity of 45 percent is occupied and no spectators are allowed in the large open-air stadiums. You feel a bit let down.”

Corona policy: Elbphilharmonie almost full, Volkspark stadium almost empty

These contradictions are illustrated in Hamburg, where the Senate allows 1000 spectators to attend amateur matches, but initially refused to allow fans to attend the home matches of the professionals of HSV and St. Pauli. Now the responsible interior authority has approved a minimum of 2,000 visitors, which in the Volkspark stadium would correspond to only 3.5 percent of the 57,000 capacity.

At the same time, concerts in the Elbphilharmonie can also welcome 2,000 visitors, which corresponds to an occupancy rate of 95 percent. And in the musical “Die Eis-Königin” even all seats may be occupied (1850). “During a concert in the Elbphilharmonie you don’t just throw yourself cheering when a goal is scored. Everyone sits very still on the square and even wears a mask,” explains Hamburg mayor Peter Tschentscher.

With this, the doctor and SPD politician actually hit a sore point: until the politically enforced crowd reduction, the clubs, which were so badly shaken by Corona, almost consistently tried to get the maximum income at home games, voluntary restrictions or mandatory tests were extremely rare .

Bundesliga and Corona: little distance and controls

Instead of keeping the fans in the stadiums as far apart as possible due to the risk of contamination, entire blocks were blocked and the spectators were placed together in a narrow space. In addition, the mask requirement was very often checked loosely or not at all. In addition, crowds in public transport and at the entrance were more the rule than the exception.

Not to mention that the mantra-esque statement by those responsible that fresh-air football is not a pandemic driver has not been scientifically confirmed or disproved to this day. According to a question from the DFL, there were hardly any proven cases of infection on match days until October – but that was before the Omikron variant, which was about five times more contagious, according to the World Health Organization.

“What Omikron means for society now, of course, will soon become the same with football,” microbiologist Professor Barbara Gärtner of the University of Saarbrücken, a member of the DFL Sports Medicine Task Force, recently told NDR. Means: As rapidly as the number of cases is currently increasing, infection is also much more likely in the stages than in the delta variant.

Corona: Every match without a spectator costs BVB four million euros

That is why Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder wants to stick to his zero-tolerance admission policy in football for the time being. “We have to look at the next two or three weeks. If there is any improvement, we will discuss other models,” said the CSU politician in the Sport1 one-two. “If the danger to the hospitals is not comparable to the Delta variant, then we should take that as a starting point and see how we deal with it.”

Otherwise, however, a significant return of the spectators, as in the past two years, could take months, which the clubs would not be able to sustain for long, according to Hans-Joachim Watzke: “That will be a whole branch of the economy. Any match without spectators cost us four million euros. That is economically difficult to bear. Moreover, the connection between the club and its fans will be destroyed a lot. Some of the spectators will not come back. That means that in five or ten years we will have even bigger problems will have.”

But even now there are several clubs “that really go for the gum”, player agent Volker Struth told Sport Bild. Despite this precarious situation, organized football managed to score a classic own goal during the winter break.

The infections of numerous players on distant air travel have further worsened the tarnished image of the millionaires in shorts. Because not everything that is legal is also legitimate given the crisis and the possible consequences, as not only the kicker pointed out. “This innocence primarily endangers other people, as well as the success of your own club and economic livelihood,” according to the trade journal: “Corona infections among football players are not a particularly good argument in politics when it comes to green light in spring To fill stadiums as much as possible Ghost games can also affect the professionals Emotionally But financially they hit the sausage seller, the mini-jobber in the park security or in the security service It would have been a matter of respect for these people too contacts have been phased out during the short Christmas holidays.”

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