Football has returned in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 but with substantial changes to adapt to life under coronavirus. That is because the health of everyone comes first. In order to facilitate the resumption of the 2019/20 season, the DFL’s Sports Medicine/Special Match Operations Task Force created a detailed hygiene concept.
“The basis was the creation of a concept that defines the hygienic, medical and organisational requirements. These are mandatory before and during the resumption of team training and match operations,” said DFL CEO Christian Seifert.
This guide is intended to provide the best possible security in these difficult times. The concept consists of three areas: Domestic environment, training and matches in stadiums.
The foundation is laid with strict guidelines in the players’ own homes. They must always consider their own health, therefore showing responsibility for their team and all people. Crowds of people are to be avoided, they are to stay at home and in their own family. Just as millions of people are currently doing, they should pay attention to common hygiene measures.
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As explained by the head of the Sports Medicine/Special Match Operations Task Force, Professor Doctor Tim Meyer, the daily training regime is also changing: “This includes sufficient distances in the changing room and only a very small number of people taking a shower. There’s to be disinfection and, if necessary because distance cannot be maintained, a face mask worn outside on the pitch.”
Unfortunately, there are no spectators in stadiums. All players and staff are to be closely monitored and tested at least once a week, supervised by the hygiene officer of the respective club, who has been specifically appointed for this purpose.
“If a test comes back positive, it’s automatically reported to the health authorities. As a rule, the person concerned is isolated and it’s determined what contact has occurred. Measures are taken accordingly. This can also be isolation but it can also be other measures. That decision is taken solely by the health authorities,” explained Professor Meyer.
In addition, each team undergoes a seven-day quarantine training camp ahead of the first matchday of the resumption. That is to be as sure as possible that all involved are healthy for the first kick-off.
That will allow football to finally resume in stadiums, although unfortunately without spectators. The number of employees, be it stewards, cameramen or support staff, will be greatly reduced. For example, the number of people present at a Bayer Leverkusen home game is usually around 32,000. That will now be a maximum of 213.
The stadium is divided into the interior, stand and exterior zones. Only a certain number of people are allowed in each zone. To avoid too many people being in a confined space at the same time, stadiums will operate in shifts in matchdays. Less personnel, clearer division and more distance is the formula for success.
“It’s important to either use larger or more buses when traveling to the stadium so that the players can maintain sufficient distance from each other and the staff,” added Professor Meyer.
Teams will use more than one changing room. For example, the starting XI, goalkeepers and substitutes will each have their own changing rooms. The warm-up takes place at different times. The players will take different routes or the tunnel to the pitch, both before kick-off and at half-time.
There’s no walkout, lining up or obligatory handshakes either. To ensure greater distance in the dug-out, only every second or third seat will be used. The TV crew is also smaller.
However, you will still be hear the coaches’ interesting statements after the game as the mandatory press conference will still take place, although virtually. As Professor Meyer stated, “Media contact will be greatly reduced after the game. That means the number of journalists is lower than usual. And there could also be plexiglass panels used, for example, to avoid direct contact between journalists and players or coaches.”
The hygiene concept of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 is the basis for getting action going again even in these difficult times.