With most of the world engulfed in the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Christian Seifert, the CEO of the Bundesliga, has announced that play will resume in Germany’s top two divisions in the beginning of May. Practice has already commenced this week in accordance with local health ordinances about distancing amid this outbreak, and apparently Mr. Seifert has liked what he’s seen enough to set a tentative return date. Bayern Munich, for example, have been training in groups of four players for a few days now.
While play will return in all 36 stadiums, the spectators will not. These so called “ghost games” will be a major departure for Bundesliga fans at home and abroad as the game day atmosphere is a major selling point of the league and is so strong that it permeates through the screens for those of us watching thousands of miles away. For now, the 9 remaining games will be scheduled to finish at around the end of June, so a full season is looking like a real possibility.
With other leagues still shut down, this could be a major coup for the Bundesliga as it is looking more and more like it will be the only top flight league to give fans around the world their much needed “soccer fix”. Of course, without any supporters or chants to complete the full German experience, it will be somewhat diminished. Despite all of that, the Bundesliga will have millions of new eyes affixed to their screens watching their players ply their trade.
It should be well noted that the COVID-19 crises in Germany has not gone away. Germany still has the 4th highest total number of cases in the world, however, their health care system has managed the situation very well, keeping the death rate relatively low and providing a model for flattening the curve. This new announcement seems like a good compromise of reclaiming some sort of normalcy for German citizens while also keeping the risks to public health at a minimum.