Germany rejects fans′ early return to soccer stadiums | News | DW | 10.08.2020
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Germany rejects fans' early return to soccer stadiums

Health ministers in Germany have extended a ban for spectators at Bundesliga matches due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The football league's games restarted in May under strict rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Germany's federal and state health ministers agreed during a video conference on Monday to extend a stadium spectator ban at Bundesliga matches until at least the end of October.

It was concurred that spectators going back to football grounds was not a priority at this point of the coronavirus crisis, according to sources close to the talks.

"We need to stay vigilant. In the current situation, spectators in the stadiums would be the wrong signal," Health Minister Jens Spahn tweeted on Monday.

Read more: 'Amputating a fan's soul' — Bundesliga plans for fans' return provoke mixed reactions

Spahn refered to a spike in new coronavirus cases over the past few days and warned against taking avoidable risks that could further increase the infection rate.

The Bundesliga was the world's first major football league to return to play after a two-month shutdown beacuse of COVID-19, however fans have not been allowed back into stadiums.

Bavaria's state premier, Markus Söder, said he cannot imagine fans returning to Bundesliga stadiums from September, as had earlier been hoped.

"I was very much in favor of the start of games without fans and it went very well. But I'm extremely skeptical about stadiums being full at the start of the Bundesliga season. I can't imagine it at the moment," Söder told reporters in Nuremberg.

Read more: Bundesliga issues guidelines for return of fans, Health Ministry warns of 'great risk'

"It's also not wise, when we have school starting, when we have early autumn, to consider that we will have an additional 20,000, 25,000 people in stadiums."

The health minister in the eastern German state of Saxony had last month announced that events with more than 1,000 participants would be allowed from September 1 — provided that hygiene rules were observed and contact tracing was implemented.

That would have made Saxony's RB Leipzig the first Bundesliga club to play matches with spectators in the stadium since the coronavirus outbreak, something which now looks in doubt.

Read more: DFL preparing for the return of Bundesliga fans

Meanwhile RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann said on Monday he is fully focused on this week's Champions League quarterfinal, despite two detected cases of coronavirus in the team of opponents Atletico Madrid.

Angel Correa and Sime Vrsaljko tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday and have been isolated at home, but the match in Lisbon is due to go ahead on Thursday, as planned.

All other Atletico players and staff returned negative results in a further round of testing before the team flew to Portugal.

kw/rc (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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