BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s Bundesliga will need to wait another week to find out about a possible restart after the government on Thursday delayed any decision over a league resumption amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The cash-strapped clubs and league had been hoping for the government to give the green light and end a two-month suspension but Chancellor Angela Merkel told a news conference any decision on if and when sports activities could resume would be taken on May 6.
“It is absolutely necessary that we remain disciplined and stick to health guidelines,” Merkel said, adding that sporting issues would be dealt with at a government meeting next week.
Merkel had discussed via video conference with state governors the easing of lockdown measures and agreed to the opening of playgrounds, museums and churches subject to conditions. More measures will be taken on May 6.
The German Football League, which last week submitted a health safety plan for games without spectators, said it accepted the fact that no decision was taken yet but is preparing for a return to action next month.
“The DFL and the clubs will prepare for a continuation of the season in May, along the lines of the health and organisation concept,” the DFL said in a statement.
The government has suspended all major events with spectators until Aug. 31, meaning that any season restart will be without fans in the stadiums.
Football in Germany has been suspended since mid-March with the virus having infected about 160,000 people by Thursday. Almost 6,300 people have died of the disease in the country.
The DFL is desperate to complete the season and play the remaining nine matchdays by June 30 to be contractually in order with sponsors and broadcasters.
Its health safety plan to restart games without spectators sees only about 300 people in and around the pitch during matches to minimise infection risk.
Players will be monitored by an appointed team health and safety official and will undergo regular testing. An infection to a player will be reported to authorities who will be in charge of any other steps. The team, however, will not be automatically quarantined.
The Netherlands and France, Germany’s neighbours, have cancelled their seasons.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann,; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Ed Osmond