It’s now been three weeks since the last Bundesliga match day was played before the COVID-19 pandemic brought football to a halt. The virus has changed life as we know it and sport has been placed on the back burners for the time being while the world fights to stop the spread of the virus. Football will resume, though, it’s just a matter of when that will happen. Bayern Munich manager Hansi Flick feels that the only way this will be realistically possible is by playing “ghost games,” or gesterspiele in German (DW).
Ghost games had already taken place a handful of times in both domestic leagues and European competition before all of the leagues were suspended indefinitely. Borussia Monchengladbach and FC Koln played out their Rhine derby match on March 11th in front of an empty Borussia Park just days before the Bundesliga was suspended indefinitely.
For now, Bayern has been utilizing cyber training during their quarantine period where players all login to a video software simultaneously along with Flick and fitness coach, Holger Broich. It’s a different type of training than everyone’s used to, which Flick admitted has been an adjustment:
At first it felt like it didn’t correspond to reality. We have the team together almost every day, even though this is cyber world.
Home Office- FC Bayern Training Edition! ♂️ ️♂️#MondayMotivation— FC Bayern US (@FCBayernUS) March 23, 2020
Some Bundesliga clubs have already resumed normal training methods, but Bayern is a club that should always be leading by example, Flick said:
FC Bayern is viewed differently [than other clubs]. We would do well to act as a role model.
Optimistically, Flick said he truly believes the season will finish, but he thinks that it will only happen behind closed doors. He also feels there’s a general consensus for that idea as it’s the only realistic option at this point:
I do believe that the season will continue. I’m thinking positively. I think everyone realizes that ghost games are the only way to do it, to finish the season.
Of course, even with ghost games it’s difficult to mitigate the potential risk of fans meeting up in large groups to support their clubs, but there are measures that can be taken to decrease that risk. Bars, restaurants, pubs, and all non-essential businesses in Europe are closed to the public, so, in theory, it could be plausible to organize ghost games with minimal risk, but the risk would have to be low enough to be safe.
Ultras and supporters groups could also step up and do their part to tell fans not to meet up in large groups while the games are being played and just to stay home and watch them on television. Perhaps some of the television and streaming networks could even offer certain deals for people who don’t have certain cable packages so that watching their team could become more accessible.