The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is now making itself felt north of the Alps: according to the German Press Agency (DPA) and the Munich-based Sueddeutsche Zeitung, the government of Bavaria will soon ban large-scale events with more than 1000 attendees until at least Good Friday, April 10th. The second leg of Bayern Munich’s Champions League tie with Chelsea FC and their Bundesliga home game against Eintracht Frankfurt fall within this time period.
A potential Champions League quarterfinals match on April 7/8 would also be affected by the decision. Bayern is scheduled to play Fortuna Düsseldorf on April 11. That game, pending an extension of the provisional time frame of the ban, would go on.
It is not clear whether Bayern’s home games might be postponed or played in an empty stadium behind closed doors — as Geisterspiele, “ghost games,” in German.
SZ reports that at least 256 cases of Coronavirus have confirmed in Bavaria so far, including the fourteen people first diagnosed with it who have already recovered from the disease. All of them worked in connection with an automobile parts manufacturer in the Gauting-Stockdorf suburb of Munich.
In addition to major sporting events, the ceremonies planned for the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Dachau concentration camp are also threatened with cancellation.
Already Bayern’s away game against Union Berlin this Saturday may be played in an empty stadium. The DFL is deliberating whether to have all matches played without spectators this weekend.
Christian Seifert, director of the DFL, said that matches with fans this match week would be “not realistic.” There were even fears that the match week would be called off entirely, but that won’t happen according to Seifert (AZ):
We have decided that the matchday will take place, purely in sporting terms. With how many spectators and whether with none — that’s a decision that the authorities have to take.
Seifert ruled out suspending the league. “Stopping is not an option. We need a table by mid-May, so that the clubs can plan.” How the league handles its other competitions only complicates matters.