The world remains in the clutches of the coronavirus pandemic but the sporting world is taking the first steps back towards normalcy, primarily through the Bundesliga this weekend.
Germany with a population of 83 million has had 175,233 positive tests, with 7,897 deaths - 211.1 & 9.5 per 100,000 respectively, compared to UK’s 355.2 positives per 100,000 & 51 deaths per 100,000, and the USA’s 439.1 positives per 100,000 & 26.6 deaths per 100,000 (all statistics from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering).
Germany’s football association the DFB know they are in a position where they can get criticized for resuming too soon should players start to get sick, but the country’s top two leagues were also in line to lose a princely sum of €760 million (£680m, $823m) should the season remain incomplete due to losses in television rights, advertising and ticket sales.
The resumption has been well planned out though, with strict safety protocols right down to the number of people to be allowed in the stadiums. The remaining nine matchdays will be played at their scheduled venues but behind closed doors, with no more than 322 people allowed in the arenas distributed in three zones - 98 people (players, coaches and referees) on the pitch, 115 in the stands (journalists, hygiene staff and emergency services) and 109 more outside (mainly security guards).
Social distancing will be enforced in the dressing room, with staggered entries and exits, and players asked to maintain 1.5m (5 feet) distance between each other. The dressing rooms, equipment and the pitch itself will all be regularly disinfected, as will auxiliary equipment such as corner flags and the woodwork.
The teams have been segregated away in seven-day training camps where testing is done twice-a-week and players testing positive will be quarantined for two weeks like it was a regular injury. With the fixtures coming thick and fast now, five substitutions will be allowed per team.
All is not rosy though with a survey by ARD Deutschlandtrend showing that about 56% of respondents were critical of the league’s resumption and just 31% favored the restart. On the pitch though, a thrilling end to the season seems to be in store. Perennial favourites Bayern Munich have overcome a slow start to the season and lead the league by four points, with just four points then separating the chasing pack of four sides - Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen.
How To Watch
Competition: Bundesliga Matchday 26
Dates: May 16-18, 2020
Saturday May 16 - 6:30 PST, 9:30 EST, 14:30 BST
- Dortmund vs Schalke (fuboTV, Fox Sports 1, FOX Deportes, BT Sport 1, Sportsnet)
- RB Leipzig vs Freiburg (fuboTV, Fox Sports 2, TUDN USA, BT Sport 2, Sportsnet)
- Hoffenheim vs Hertha Berlin (FOX Soccer Match Pass, BT Sport 3, Sportsnet)
- Fortuna Dusseldorf vs Paderborn (FOX Soccer Match Pass, BT Sport App, Sportsnet)
- Augsburg vs Wolfsburg (fuboTV, Fox Soccer Plus, FOX Soccer Match Pass, BT Sport App, Sportsnet)
Saturday May 16 - 9:30 PST, 12:30 EST, 17:30 BST
- Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Mönchengladbach (fuboTV, Fox Sports 1, TUDN USA, BT Sport 1, Sportsnet)
Sunday May 17 - 6:30 PST, 9:30 EST, 14:30 BST
Sunday May 17 - 9:00 PST, 12:00 EST, 17:00 BST
- Union Berlin v Bayern Munich (fuboTV, Fox Sports 1, TUDN USA, BT Sport 1, Sportsnet)
Monday May 18 - 11:30 PST, 14:30 EST, 19:30 BST
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