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October 2020
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German football considers ending its lockdown. We wait to see…

By Christophe Jost

So the Bundesliga and the DFL have presented a broad concept to restart, addressing health issues, security, training concepts, finances, etc. all set out in a 41 page document.

My opinion, based on what I am reading, is that they have done a very thorough job looking at most aspects if not all of how to get the game restarted.   And in that, (again from what I am reading), they are the only league to have done such a work.

But in this, and indeed in other discussions, one subject keeps coming up and that is testing.

The DFL have secured tests from private labs – and this is absolutely legal.

But it is the morality of this that is being questioned when staff at hospitals don’t have the possibility og being tested because there are not enough testing capabilities.

The other point that is coming out is that they are paid millions, they get the tests before front line people, kids still cannot go to school, play outside, amateur football is banned yet these lucky few are allowed to do it and can earn their millions.   Is that right?  Is that moral?

And many people are voicing such concerns. Setting the Bundesliga on an equal footing with  ‘system relevant’ activities such as the police, hospitals, and others is not something that is easily accepted.

On the other hand, having 20 million people being able to study the Bundesliga table instead of the Covid-19 infection table is something that would make many of them feel better and this is not something that ought to be ignored either.

But now even within this concept, Cologne has had three cases; apparently the physio was positive and contaminated two players and maybe more.

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So the question is now, what would happen if this sort of situation occurred once games restart?

Normal precautions would make it an obligation for the whole team to be in quarantine for two weeks.
But, then the team(s) they played in the week before would also have to go into quarantine.

The thing is that Cologne are said (and there is no reason to doubt it) to have followed all precautions and imposed procedures.

Clubs are employers like other responsible employers they follow all regulations that have been laid down. So as long as they do that, one cannot accuse them of anything.

So the ‘political’ view of the Bundesliga is that as with any business, the clubs are seeking to re-open, and so it is normal that they prepare plans on how this can happen.

But the clubs cannot organise each player’s living room, not the way spectators will be watching the games. Will friends come along, have a drink, give high fives and hugs when a goal is scored?

Now an interesting perspective and a terrifying one from the clubs’ point of view is a proposal that if the Bundesliga is considered as vital for the country, then the games ought to be broadcast live, on free TV channels…

On Wednesday this coming week, the German government will decide if it should authorise a restart.

And then a backlash is expected by the public. Now come comments that if players had followed Goretzka’s and Kimisch’s solidarity initiative, “in which the two Bayern stars provided €1 million as start-up capital for “You kick Corona”(  by the end of April, the donations had grown to over €4 million which is handed over to charities involved in fighting the effects of the virus. ) the solidarity they would have shown, the ‘we are part of this with you’, They would not be seen as privileged players, but as the guys who showed solidarity. Which most of them visibly did not, which means people may not react positively to the Bundesliga getting what is felt to be a better treatment…

In England, by the way, not all players showing solidarity are seen in this way, as the negative publicity against Ozil has shown. 

A very interesting contribution from an economics professor stated that once you consider all the implications in the economy: direct employees, indirect ones, all sectors active (car industry, hotels, transport, press, etc.) football in Germany is having an effect on up to three million jobs.

So, and this is the point of view of some who want football to resume, restarting the Bundesliga could be used as a reboot of the whole economy and it need not be considered as an ‘either or’ proposition but an ‘as well as’ notion.

In this way football may not be ‘system-critical’ but it can do the system a lot of good.

 

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