Regional government officials in Germany have discussed sports and the coronavirus pandemic on a conference call and say games could resume in mid-May, with some reports suggesting the Bundesliga could start as early as May 9.
A summary published by the city of Bremen says “continuing play in the Bundesliga … is considered justifiable from the middle or end of May as per the current state of discussions.”
Bremen senator Anja Stahmann chaired the call. She says resumption would require “the strictest hygienic and medical conditions.”
Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder, Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia Armin Laschet and German football league (DFL) CEO Christian Seifert echoed the optimism for a May restart to the season with no fans in attendance.
Upon hearing their statements, Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge called it “a very positive signal” for the resumption of play.
“It is important that we treat the politicians’ legal and medical guidelines in an exemplary and very serious manner in order to minimise the health risk,” Rummenigge said.
“I would like to thank the management of the DFL, headed by Christian Seifert, for an excellent concept that takes full account of organisational and medical aspects. This concept is the basis for the positive and trustworthy assessment of the policy.”
Germany federation president Fritz Keller wrote in Kicker magazine that resuming league play would not mean taking resources away from healthcare workers, saying “there will be no use by sportspeople of testing capacity which would be missed elsewhere.”
Keller added: “This week, important decisions will be made on how to proceed.
“We are very much aware that football without fans lacks its heart. From discussions and feedback from fan organisations, I know how much it hurts fans that they cannot support their clubs in the stadium.”
The German league has been more bullish than other major European competitions about the chances of resuming in May or June with widespread coronavirus tests for players. That push is partly driven by fears that several clubs face financial collapse without TV and sponsorship money.
German state and local officials could potentially veto games in their areas. Keller says unified rules for football around the country would help clubs “quickly and without bureaucracy.”
The last top-level football game in Germany was played on March 11 but clubs have been pushing to resume the season in empty stadiums.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.