Professional football in Corona times 

Professional football in Corona times 

Soccer

Professional football in Corona times 

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After several weeks of hard lockdown, so many people are missing everyday normality and socializing. No shopping, no restaurants, no concerts, and no celebrations. But if you turn on the TV, you can see the Bundesliga going on. Admittedly without an audience, but professional sport seems to function during this exceptional time.

How are professional sports function despite the lockdown?

While German citizens are restricted in all their basic rights, professional sport on television seems to run unchanged. This is a source of irritation to critics. Thus, there are repeated discussions even on Bitreviews.com. While millions of amateur footballers are not allowed on the football pitch, there have been increasing calls for professional sport to show solidarity and take a break.

Aug 10, 2019; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Napoli player Giovanni Di Lorenzo (22) during a United States La Liga-Serie A Cup Tour soccer match at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

As regrettable as the current situation is for the whole of Germany, the demand for a break for professional footballers is illogical. After all, production is continuing at VW these days and the tradesmen are completing their orders. Deutsche Bahn has not suspended its services either. The majority of the professionals share the opinion that the opposite of a break is the right reaction. The footballers want to work, to deliver exciting games to the fans, and to do so under very strict safety criteria. Based on this, the first Bundesliga has developed a strict and elaborate health concept to which all teams, as well as the entire coaching staff, have to adhere.

Bundesliga convinces sceptics

Thus, the role model has shifted to strictly adhering to the Corona guidelines and restrictions. As recently as April last year, the majority of Germans were skeptical about the start of the Bundesliga, according to the results of a DW poll. DFL boss Christian Seifert had to show a lot of nerve and strength to justify his concept politically. But past experience has shown that it would take a few ghost games for these doubts to evaporate.

Jul 31, 2018; Miami, FL, USA; Real Madrid goalkeeper Francisco Casilla (13) punches the ball away against Manchester United during the second half of an International Champions Cup soccer match at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Other sports have followed in football’s slipstream, such as cycling and tennis, building their own Corona Bubble. This refers to the bubble in which athletes move and have no or almost no contact with other people while they are on a competitive journey. Based on several sports journalists, other organizations used the football concept as a blueprint to return to the daily routine of the professional league. Temporary outbreaks, such as in Hoffenheim and Cologne, were quickly contained with great effort. There is no question that the 1st Bundesliga can afford these efforts. This requires regular and functioning tests as well as a high standard of hygiene on the trips and complete tracking of all contacts for the athletes. All these requirements cannot be met by any amateur team or amateur athlete. 

This is painful but unfortunately a reality. Professional athletes only move around in their own environment without contact with the outside world in order to virtually eliminate the risk of infection. If a positive test does slip through, the athletes, coaches, and employees are immediately isolated and the contacts are consistently followed up. After all, the entire Bundesliga operation, matches, and tournaments are at stake. The majority of football fans appreciate being able to follow the matches of their favorite team and thus at least get a bit of normality back into their rather monotonous and dreary everyday lives.

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