The Bundesliga became the last major league in Europe to announce a suspension of all fixtures, making the announcement on Friday a few hours before Fortuna Düsseldorf were scheduled to face Paderborn.
Earlier on Friday the DFL had issued a statement that they would discuss a proposal to suspend the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 seasons from next Tuesday (March 17) up until and including April 2 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Games in Germany's top two flights have already been played without fans in an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19. However, their hand was forced when Düsseldorf applied for their behind-closed-doors Friday night fixture to be postponed, following fears that the Paderborn coach may have the virus.
A special meeting of the DFL board on Friday put forward the proposal which would have been discussed at a general meeting of members on Monday to confirm the decision, but that decision had to be expedited.
The DFL said that following the league's resumption, the seasons in Germany's top two tiers should then be played to conclusion by the summer.
The earlier decision, or lack of one, was criticized by Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara. In a tweet that was swiftly deleted, the Spaniard replied to a tweet from Bayern confirming the go-ahead of their game on Saturday in front of a full stadium with: "Dear DFL, Irresponsible, imprudent! This is crazy. Please stop fooling around and land on reality. Let's be honest, there are much more important priorities than any sport."
Keller calls for togetherness
DFB president Fritz Keller has called on the "unifying power of football" to help tackle the virus, and that football must take a back seat while the struggle to contain the virus continues.
"Football is and will remain the most beautiful thing in the world, but it is a minor matter when it comes to health," Keller said in a statement. "As dramatic as the situation is, there is a great chance that we can now use the unifying power of football and fulfil our responsibility in dealing with this major social task.
"That's why we are already looking ahead and looking at what the game will look like once we have overcome the crisis together — hopefully as quickly as possible," he added. "As soon as football returns to the pitch, we will perhaps appreciate this game and everything it entails a little bit more. All together."