The German DFL has reiterated its plan to continue playing fixtures this weekend behind closed doors as the COVID-19 pandemic causes cancellations and postponements elsewhere across Europe and the world.
While the organization issued a directive forcing the suspension of fixtures starting next Tuesday through at least April 2, the league has gone ahead with its plan for playing fixtures this weekend, with all Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga games set to take place except Hannover’s match against SG Dynamo Dresden.
“With a view to the coming weekend, both the DFL and clubs will continue to work closely with the Federal Ministry of Health and the local health authorities at the respective stadium locations of the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga,” the league said in a statement. “The health of the entire population and therefore all football fans as well as all players in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 have top priority. Therefore, it goes without saying that official instructions must always be implemented. Society as a whole, and with it football, faces a hitherto unknown challenge.”
The league statement placed the decision to go ahead with games squarely at the feet of local authorities at the specific stadium locations, saying the league is deferring to any changes in local policy between now and kickoff time.
Hannover’s match was cancelled as two players in the squad tested positive for the coronavirus, causing all players and staff to go into quarantine.
Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was quoted as saying the decision to play this weekend “is the right way to go,” and claiming that while public safety should be considered, “at the end of the day, professional football is also about financials,” claiming that smaller clubs could face a crisis if they do not receive revenue. “There is a large three-digit million sum for the 1st and 2nd leagues that would be lit on fire.”
Rummenigge also asked UEFA to postpone World Cup qualifiers scheduled for later this month, saying the travel associated with cross-continent competition is an unnecessary risk. “I would strongly recommend that FIFA and Uefa skip the suspension period,” he said. “That would mean that the players would travel around the world. In our view, this is associated with risks that should not be underestimated.”
Meanwhile, Bayern Munich player Thiago Alcantara was against the decision, saying in a social media post, “This is crazy. Please stop fooling around and land on reality. Let’s be honest, there are much more important priorities than any sport.”
Bayern Munich is set to play Union Berlin on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET. The league’s matchweek schedule begins today as Fortuna Dusseldorf and Paderborn meet with a 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff. Bayern’s game against Chelsea in Champions League play scheduled for next week has been postponed by UEFA.
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