The DFL has spoken — matchday 26 of the Bundesliga shall go ahead as scheduled, with the games being played behind closed doors. With the coronavirus ravaging Europe at the moment, this decision has been met with severe criticism, especially from Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara.
Shortly after the news became official, Thiago took to Twitter to voice his displeasure. His initial tweet was directed squarely at the DFL. That was later taken down and an edited version was posted instead, which you can read below:
This is crazy. Please stop fooling around and land on reality. Let's be honest, there are much more important priorities than any sport.— Thiago Alcantara (@Thiago6) March 13, 2020
Here’s the original version of the tweet, where the Spaniard criticized the DFL directly:
Jetzt wehren sich auch die Spieler gegen den Bundesliga-Irrsinn: Thiagos Post von gerade eben. Allerdings anscheinend gelöscht. #fcbayern @SPORTBILD @BILD_Sport @Thiago6 #Covid_19 pic.twitter.com/dfAvEorICa— Tobias Altschäffl (@altobelli13) March 13, 2020
The decision of the DFL to let the matchday go ahead means that Germany is the only country out of the top 5 leagues that will allow games to be played this weekend. The EPL, La Liga, Serie A, and Ligue 1 have already been suspended, and UEFA have also postponed all Champions League and Europa League fixtures.
There are already players and coaches testing positive to the virus in England and Italy, so it seems rather reckless for the DFL to allow the games to go ahead. And while every possible precaution may be taken in the stadium, the mere act of playing games encourages people to get together in large numbers to support their team.
During PSG’s recent UCL clash against Borussia Dortmund, for example, a large number of PSG fans gathered outside the stadium despite the spectator ban, defeating the purpose of playing the game behind closed doors in the first place. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is keenly aware of this, and urges the fans to not do anything stupid:
Karl-Heinz #Rummenigge appeals to the fans: "Please do not travel to Berlin. Please do not gather around the stadium. All that contact should be avoided so that the virus cannot spread quickly." #FCUFCB— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) March 13, 2020
Of course, this seems like a very soft half-measure. German football suffers from a severe lack of leadership at the top — the DFL and the DFB are both weak and ineffective, and wholly unequipped to deal with any kind of crisis. Them putting people’s health at risk is nothing unexpected. It’s just what we’ve come to expect over the years.