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Bundesliga’s plan to bring back fans blocked by ministers

German authorities have halted plans to allow fans to return Bundesliga football matches when the 2020-21 season kicks off in September.

Germany’s 16 state health ministers agreed in a meeting on Monday that bringing fans back into stadiums for league games should not be a priority after the country last week saw its highest daily number of new COVID-19 cases in three months, with 1,045 cases recorded last Wednesday.

Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn said yesterday (Monday) that, due to the current spike in COVID-19 cases in the country, welcoming spectators into stadiums is “not suitable.”

He wrote on Twitter: “The league’s concept is good in theory. But what’s decisive is what happens every day in practice.

“We feel that we have to stay alert. Having spectators in the stands would be the wrong signal in the current situation.”

The German Football League (DFL) detailed plans earlier this month to allow some supporters to return to the Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga, with a ban on alcohol and standing to be implemented to support the transition.

The proposal also prohibited away fans from attending games and suggested using personalised tickets to help with contact tracing.

Berlin health senator Dilek Kalayci said the ministers came to a unanimous decision that stadiums should remain off limits to fans based on the current pandemic situation.

Kalayci said the ministers would prefer to keep stadiums closed until October 31.

The Bundesliga was the first major European league to return to action in mid-May amid after working out a detailed concept to bring back football without fans.

The final nine rounds of league matches last season were all played behind closed doors.

Last week, DFL chief executive Christian Seifert said that “small steps” would be required on the path to normality, but conceded that the decision is ultimately in the hands of politicians.

With that in mind, Markus Soder, Bavaria’s minister president, said: “It would send a disastrous signal to the public with regard to medical capacities as well as the cultural events.”

The decision comes just days after Live Nation announced it is set to stage its first concert in Germany since March at the start of September with around 12,000 fans set to attend a concert headlined by Bryan Adams.

It will be the biggest event in the country in almost six months, although the 66,000-capacity Merkur Spiel-Arena in Düsseldorf will be less than a fifth full due to social distancing restrictions.

While large-scale events are banned in Germany until November, the Federal Government announced in June that festivals and fairs that are able to track infections and comply with hygiene rules can welcome spectators.