Germany has led the way in coronavirus testing and now the Bundesliga is hoping it can be the first major league to return to play, even if fans can’t be back in the stands yet.
Amid the horrifying numbers emerging daily from Europe of coronavirus-related deaths, Germany has offered a little more hope than most countries. Their intense program of consistent testing from early on has seemingly been rather effective in keeping the human cost at a minimum. Across the continent the example set by Germany is now being replicated. It could soon offer the soccer world a little more hope too.
The sport has been halted across the globe by the coronavirus pandemic with all major leagues and competitions suspended. The Bundesliga, however, plans to return to action in the not so distant future, with spectator-free games penciled in for early May. What’s more, teams are already back in training this week.
Bundesliga chiefs believe it is possible for the division to complete its 2019-20 season by the end of June. For context, it’s projected that most other European leagues won’t even have returned from their hiatus by then. The Premier League, for instance, has already given up on any hope of playing fixtures in May. June also looks unlikely as a restart date.
In some sense, the sight of top level soccer being played will provide some normality at a time when what’s normal has been in short supply. Of course, the safety of players, coaches and all concerned is of paramount importance, and there remains unanswered questions over this, but the prospect of some Bundesliga soccer, even if it’s just as a distraction from the horrors of what is happening in the world right now, is a welcome one.
That these games will be played in front of empty stands means that this will be anything but normal. Germany cherishes its fan culture more than any other soccer nation and so the proposal that will lock supporters out from supporting their team has made many uneasy. The Bundesliga says not only will the division be a TV-only spectacle over the summer, but it is expected to remain so until the end of the year.
Germany has led the way in its approach to combating the coronavirus pandemic, with other nations now attempting to do what they were doing months ago, and it might be doing the same for the soccer world as well. What the Bundesliga has planned might well be replicated across the sport as other countries and leagues wrestle with the situation. It might not be the ideal solution, but it is still a solution.