Bundesliga given green light to return to action this month

Leon Bailey of Bayer Leverkusen is challenged by Jadon Sancho of Dormtund during a Bundesliga match (Jörg Schüler/Getty Images)

Germany’s Bundesliga looks set to become the first major European league to return to action after the Covid-19 pandemic after the German government gave the green light to its resumption.

A video meeting between Germany’s state premiers and the country’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, has concluded that football games are safe to go ahead without fans as early as the middle of May. Mass gatherings in the country remain prohibited until at least October 24, with the German Football League’s (DFL) restart plan outlining that no more than 300 people would be required in stadiums to play and broadcast fixtures. According to reports last month, it is unlikely that fans will be allowed back into stadiums before 2021.

The Bundesliga has been suspended since mid-March, when it drew criticism for attempting to stage matches behind closed doors even after players had tested positive for the virus. The DFL announced the full suspension of both the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 shortly after.

With Germany having contained the spread of the virus better than many other European nations, the league is now set to begin playing behind-closed-doors fixtures later this month, although an exact date has not yet been confirmed. 

The DFL was reportedly aiming to play games on May 15 but, according to London-based German journalist Raphael Honigstein, the government has mandated that players and staff must quarantine together for two weeks before any action can be staged, meaning the earliest date for matches would be May 22. 

The majority of teams in the top-tier Bundesliga have nine matches left to play, meaning the league should be more than capable of fitting the remaining action in before the end of July – the cut-off date recommended by Uefa, which has outlined plans to conclude its own competitions in August.  

The league’s return remains controversial, with 10 people across 36 German clubs having shown positive for the virus in the latest rounds of testing. The DFL, however, has warned that several of its clubs would be placed in “existence-threatening” positions were no football to be played by June.