Football Unusual

Written by on May 7, 2020

This weekend sees the the return of Combat Sports to live TV and while there are many views on the vehement approach by Dana White and the UFC organisation to get things going again, I for one am kinda looking forward to seeing some PunchKicky action return to our screens. The great news is they are not the only sport set to return to action.

Across the pond, the German Bundesliga is set to become the first major football league in Europe to return to competition. Initially, the German Football League (DFL) said it would be ready to return on May 9, warning that the final decision was not in their hands but in those of the politicians. Following the German government’s delayed decision on the league’s return, it was announced that the Bundesliga will not return on May 9 as was previously hoped until a final decision was made today.

A further possible setback was the announcement by Cologne that the club, currently 10th in the Bundesliga, had received “three positive tests, three people at FC Koln are now in quarantine”. No further COVID-19 infections have as yet been reported and training in groups has continued as per normal.

Well that day has come and the German government has given the DFL the green light to restart on May 15, with the exact date yet to be determined by football authorities for the top two tiers of German football.

As part of the build-up to a possible resumption of play, the DFL confirmed last week that they have begun testing Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 players for COVID-19 meaning that there will be no further quarantine period required for players and staff. Moving forward, players and staff from each club will be tested up to twice a week until the end of June as the DFL wants to finish the season by June 30 to avoid any legal issues with loan deals and contracts that end on that day.

The restart of the league will be an unusual one with the following restrictions set to be strictly upheld:

  • All matches will be played behind closed doors as Germany has banned large events with crowds until 24 October. A recent survey among fans showed almost half of those surveyed (49%) said they were not in favor of games without spectators, known as Geisterspiele or “ghost games” in German.
  • No handshakes before or after games. This is kind of pointless as football, being a contact sport sees plenty of contact between players in a tackle as well as contact with the ball at set-pieces!?
  • The DFL have developed a health and safety plan that limits the number of people near or around the pitch during matches to just over 300.
  • Press conferences will be held virtually and sinks will be installed at regular intervals in working areas. 
  • An 18-point plan has also been developed to cover best practice on away trips.

The league, which last saw a ball kicked in anger in early March, has nine match days left to complete the season and boasts the most exciting title race among Europe’s elite leagues with just eight points separating Bayern in first and Bayer Leverkusen in fifth place. It promises to be a thrilling finish to the season as a number of fixtures involve the top-five sides playing each other to determine title honours.

Looking at the other leagues across Europe:

  • The Turkish Super Lig will resume on June 12, aiming to complete the season by the end of July. Turkey also intended hosting the Champions League final in Istanbul in August as planned.
  • The Croatian top-flight is also set to resume – without spectators – with cup ties taking place on May 30, followed by league action on June 6, pending government approval.
  • Spain’s La Liga plans to return in June.
  • The English Premier League is targeting a return to training in small groups from May 18.
  • Italy’s Serie A has given the green light to resume individual training at their club’straining grounds with group sessions set to be allowed from May 18.
  • France and the Netherlands have crowned their respective champions after it was announced that their seasons were over.

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