BERLIN, Germany, Apr 20 – Germany’s top-flight football matches could resume from May 9, regional leaders of the country’s biggest states said Monday, although games can only take place without spectators to prevent coronavirus contagion.
Markus Soeder, state premier of Bavaria, said it remains “completely unimaginable to have spectators” in the stadiums given the need for social distancing to slow the virus spread.
But “we could perhaps from May 9 play such a round of ‘ghost games’,” Soeder told Bild, using the German term “Geisterspiele” for matches played in empty stadiums.
“A weekend with football is much more bearable than a weekend without football,” he added.
Likewise, Armin Laschet, premier of North Rhine-Westphalia state which is home to Borussia Dortmund, said the league could resume “on condition that there is a thoroughly thought-out concept”.
The German Football League (DFL) has presented “safeguards” in recent days, said Laschet, adding that he “can imagine us returning to ‘ghost games’”.
The backing of the two state premiers could prove to be crucial to the league as it mulls a resumption of the Bundesliga.
A decision is imminent with a video conference due to be held Thursday between the DFL and 36 clubs in the first and second divisions.
While Germany began easing curbs and allowing smaller shops to open from Monday, large public events have been scrapped through to August 31.
In the face of pressure from industry anxious to get business going again, Laschet, who controls Germany’s biggest state by population, has pushed for more relaxations.
But Soeder, who runs the country’s biggest state by surface that is also home to Bayern Munich, has taken a more cautious stance, including keeping schools shut a week longer than elsewhere in Germany.
The DFL is desperate for the season to be finished by June 30 to secure an instalment of television money, reportedly worth around 300 million euros ($326 million).