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German clubs outline measures for fans’ return

German Football League (DFL) chief executive Christian Seifert has acknowledged that “small steps” are required on the path to normality after clubs in the top two domestic divisions agreed measures to allow some fans to return to stadia during the 2020-21 season.

At a meeting yesterday (Tuesday), clubs in the Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga decided that away fans would not be allowed at stadia until the end of 2020 at the earliest due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. No standing would be allowed before October 31 and no alcohol would be sold in the venues.

Clubs will also be required to set up contact-tracing measures by noting the identities and contact details of all spectators.

The new league campaign is due to get underway on September 18, a week after the first round of the DFB-Pokal cup competition. However, Germany’s Federal Government, the Bundestag, has already said that large-scale gatherings will not be allowed to take place before the start of November.

Seifert made clear that introducing the measures is contingent on the approval of the German authorities, with the country’s state health ministers set to discuss the measures further at a meeting next week.

“If and when fans will return to the stadiums is not a decision for the DFL but for the political leaders,” said DFL chief executive Christian Seifert, who added that the “priority is not full stadia, but the health situation”.

He added: “The DFL does not expect or demand anything but we are preparing to take this small step (with fans in stadiums) when the time comes.

“Professional football can only come back in steps. There is no magic switch for politicians to give the green light for full stadiums. We will have to reclaim normality in small steps.”

As sport strives to return to a so-called ‘new normal’, two of the biggest annual events on the calendar have become the latest to suffer due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 2020 edition of the Madrid Open, widely considered to be the most prestigious tennis tournament outside the four grand slams, has been cancelled following a spike in Covid-19 cases in Spain.

Staged at the Caja Mágica complex, the Madrid Open is an ATP Masters 1000 tournament on the men’s tour and a Premier Mandatory event on the women’s WTA Tour. Initially scheduled to take place from May 1-10, the competition was rescheduled for September 12-20, but organisers have now said that following the “strong recommendation” of local health leaders, they have been left with no choice but to cancel the tournament.

To read more about the cancellation of the 2020 Madrid Open, check out the report on our sister website, TheStadiumBusiness.com.

Meanwhile the Indy 500 will be staged behind closed doors for the first time in its history this month after Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) backtracked on plans to admit fans.

Organisers had planned to welcome 87,500 spectators – approximately 25% of the circuit’s capacity – for the August 23 race. However, IMS has confirmed that the stands will be empty following “careful consideration and extensive consultation” with state and city leadership.

Individuals who have tickets for this year’s Indy 500 will be able to use them for the 2021 edition and retain their original seats.

In other news, Major League Baseball has postponed its inaugural ‘Field of Dreams’ event, due to take place on August 13. The game between the Chicago White Sox and St Louis Cardinals was scheduled to take place at a temporary ballpark in Iowa, where the famous 1989 film of the same name was set.

For more about the postponement of the event, as well as the new restrictions for the Indy 500, check out our sister website, TheStadiumBusiness.com.

Image: Ungry Young Man (CC BY 2.0)