The attention of football fans in the world has shifted to Germany where the biggest league in the country is expected to restart today, May 16, 2020. German Bundesliga will be used to pass the message of hope, determination and victory over the Coronavirus pandemic that brought the world to its knees for over three months.
Though fans will not have the opportunity to troop out to support their clubs like they usually do before the pandemic, the restart of the 2019-2020 season which was suspended in March will give them more reason to stay at home until the war against the pandemic is completely over.
Bundesliga Restart: The Fans are ready
The stands might be empty but the souls of millions of German and non-German fans of the Bundesliga will be in the venues where the matches will be played. Media outlets that have been starved with live contents will gladly go all the way to ensure that they bring the action straight to the living rooms of the fans.
Hans-Joachim Watzke, the Chief Executive of German Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund said even the former Coach of the club who is now doing wonders with English Premier League side Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp, has been texting him consistently over the Bundesliga’s restart.
“Jurgen has texted me a few times that he will be watching TV at the weekend and everyone is happy that the game will start again,” Watzke told DAZN.
“In England in particular, clubs are clinging to the fact that the Premier League can also start again soon. We owe the fact that we are in such a position in Germany to the population, who behaved in such a disciplined manner.
“And the politicians who are very careful with the situation. That is the reason why Germany is one of the best countries in the world to have come through this crisis.”
Obviously, no German Bundesliga fan that won’t like the idea of seeing their favourite clubs play week in and week out once again. Though it remained at least 9 matches for each club to play before the pandemic halted football, the matches could be more than enough to help fans get their minds off the dreaded virus.
German Bundesliga Restart: Some Players’ Minds are not on Football
Meanwhile, most pundits are sceptical about the safety of the footballers and other officials who will be involved in the remaining fixtures. Recall that barely a week ago, it was confirmed that some members of the league had tested positive for the virus and they are already self-isolating. It was also confirmed that all the players, backroom staff and officials that will be used for the remaining fixtures were tested for the virus but all returned negative except 10 unnamed members of the league.
FC Cologne alone has about three members of the club who have tested positive for the virus. And it was reported that two of the three people are footballers while the other person is a physiologist at the club.
In this light, Cologne midfielder Birger Verstraete recently voiced out his fear in regards the restart of the season amid Coronavirus pandemic. He told a Belgian TV that he had contact with the club’s Physio who has tested positive for the virus and that has brought fear to him because his girlfriend has an underlying health issue.
“The health of my family, girlfriend, everyone, actually, is paramount,” he said. “It is not up to me to decide what to do with the Bundesliga, but I can say that my head is not on football.”
Cologne had to issue a statement immediately to counter the interview, saying the media represented the player’s views. While the player also issued a statement saying that he shouldn’t have granted the interview when he was still emotional.
“Instead of giving an interview out of emotion, I should have contacted our doctor and had my questions answered”, he said, adding that his girlfriend would have to return to Belgium, her home country, for the time being.
The state of mind of Birger Verstraete could be the general state of mind of most of the players in Bundesliga and probably in other leagues that are also planning to restart soonest. So, all the players could be ready for football physically but obviously, not all will be ready mentally and emotionally.
The clubs have agreed that they are playing in parole; that is, the outcome of every match and what happens afterwards, will determine whether the next match will be played. Hence, it is more or less an experiment the government of Germany that has done so well to minimize the impact of the virus across the country, will wish it doesn’t backfire.