May 8

— Subotic criticizes DFL decision 

Union Berlin defender Neven Subotic has criticized the DFL’s decision to resume the Bundesliga season behind closed doors.  

“That’s a precarious situation for all of us. It is just going to be a lot of risk management and trying to get to a finished season with the fewest casualties, the Serbian player said in an interview with the BBC. “No matter when we start, it will be too soon.”

“We are not going to have games with fans and for me that is what makes it special [...] that is gone, and I don’t want to pretend like it is not a huge thing. It is a huge thing and it is what makes it special.”

Neven Subotic: ‘German football showing it’s true colors’ during coronavirus crisis

— K-League draws international attention with restart 

South Korea’s K-League season kicked off on Friday with Jeonbuk Motors beating Suwon Bluewings 1-0 thanks to an 86th-minute Lee Dong-gook header in an empty World Cup Stadium in Jeonju. With almost all major sports leagues on hold, foreign interest in Asia’s oldest league is at an all-time high. According to the Associated Press, broadcasters from at least 17 countries recently obtaining rights for the league.

There had been some interest in the K-League before but the number has surged after the announcement of the league starting,” said K-League President Kwon Oh-gap.

Jeonbuk are the powerhouse of the K-League, having won the title five of the past six years.  

May 7

— Questions over testing for referees

According to German sports magazine kicker, Bundesliga referees have yet to be tested for the coronavirus. In the DFL’s press conference on Thursday though, CEO Christian Seifert did give assurances that all officials would be tested.

Any referees who do test positive may then miss the start of the league on May 16, given that a 14-day quarantine would be necessary.

According to the DFL concept, referees should be tested early in the morning of the day before the game, either by a club near them or in the test routine of the home team for the matchday.

— Gladbach in the clear

Borussia Mönchengladbach have announced in a statement they will start team training again today, following strict hygiene protocols.

The club said of the 50 tests done on staff and players, everyone tested negative twice other than one staff member. They had a weak positive and then a negative on the second test but have since been placed in quarantine. A player also had a weak positive but has since had two negative test results. Given the results and that all tests were done following the protocols required by local health authorities, all players are now able to return to team training.

“We are looking forward to the prospect of being able to play Bundesliga football again, even though it will sadly be without the support of our fans,” the club’s sporting director Max Eberl said. “We are taking all hygiene and contact rules very seriously and have the feeling the players are being responsible and disciplined with the situation.”

The club also reported that midfielder Denis Zakaria will not be part of training because of knee surgery he underwent last night.

May 6

— Union’s Yunus Malli out of quarantine

Union Berlin said that Yunus Malli has finished his in-home quarantine after a family member tested positive for COVID-19, but he will not return to training unless he is cleared by a doctor.

“Yunus is healthy and not infected, so he is no longer in quarantine,” Union managing director Oliver Ruhnert said in a club statement. “However, health precautions are much stricter for professional footballers than for people in other professions. That’s why we are waiting for the final medical clearance for Yunus before he trains with us again.”

— Turkish league to resume in June

The Turkish Super Lig, the country’s top football division, intends to resume its season on June 12 and aims to finish its season by the end of July. Turkey also plans to host the Champions League final in August.

Turkey suspended its football, basketball and volleyball leagues on March 20 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Super Lig was one of the last European leagues to halt its season. The Turkish top flight has eight matchdays remaining.

“We are aiming to end the season on July 26 by playing seven weekends and one weekday game,” Nihat Ozdemir, the president of Turkey’s football federation, told a teleconference.

He said the games will be played without spectators and the Turkish health ministry and its scientific advisory council will put forward the conditions under which the games can be held.

May 5 

— Aue squad in isolation

Second-division side Erzgebirge Aue has put its entire squad in home isolation after a member of staff tested positive for the coronavirus.

The staff member was not named and it remains unclear how they might have contracted the coronavirus. It was the first confirmed case in the league’s second round of testing.

Players, coaches and backroom staff will stay at home ahead of more testing on Thursday.

— German health minister backs DFL plan to restart Bundesliga 

Germany’s health minister has expressed his support for the Bundesliga’s plan to resume play behind closed doors later this month.  

“The (football league’s) basic plan makes sense and could serve as a model for other professional sports,” Jens Spahn told public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk on Tuesday. “But we’ll have to see how it goes.” 

The German Football League (DFL), which operates Germany’s top two divisions, is hoping to get the go-ahead to restart the season behind closed doors as soon as May 15, when Chancellor Angela Merkel meets with the country’s 16 state premiers in a conference call on Wednesday.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn (picture-alliance/dpa/B. v. Jutrczenka)

German Health Minister Jens Spahn

It’s not clear how a video posted by Hertha Berlin forward Salomon Kalou could influence the political leaders‘ thinking. The video, posted on Monday, showed the 34-year-old Kalou violating physical distancing rules meant to combat the coronavirus outbreak 

Hertha immediately suspended the Ivory Coast player, a move welcomed by Health Minister Spahn. 

“It was important for the club show that there would be serious consequences after this video,” Spahn said. “And I hope that everyone has now understood that this is about something serious.” 

For his part, Kalou has apologized for his actions, telling broadcaster Sport1 that “I take responsibility for this stupid mistake.”  

— DFL general meeting to be held on Thursday 

Representatives of the 36 clubs that make up the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 have confirmed that they will meet on Thursday to discuss the results of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s meeting with the 16 state prisoners one day earlier. The DFL is hoping the politicians will approve the resumption of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 seasons as soon as May 15.  

— Doubt cast on Tour de France plans 

French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu has cast doubt on plans for the Tour de France to go ahead at a later date than usual. 

The Tour, cycling’s biggest event of the year has been postponed from its original June 27 starting date to August 29 due to a ban on large gatherings in France until late August. The sports ministry also said last month that special arrangements may have to be made for the start of the Grand Depart in Nice. 

“Many people are begging me to keep the Tour even behind closed doors,” Maracineanu told France Television. “I hope it will take place but I am not sure. We do not know what the epidemic will be like after lockdown.” 

May 4

— Positive tests as Hertha shake hands

With a decision on the potential resumption of the Bundesliga set to be made on Wednesday, the DFL (German Football League) have announced the results for their first set of coronvirus tests.

The organization tweeted out on Monday afternoon that they have so far carried out 1,724 tests at the 36 clubs in the top two divisions and recorded 10 positive tests. This comes the day after top flight outfit Cologne reported three positive cases, which presumably are included in the ten.

The announcement also stated that the DFL sees “individual compliance with hygiene rules as a basic requirement.”

But adherence to that looked to have been largely absent in a video posted by Hertha Berlin’s Salomon Kalou on Facebook Live hours earlier that depicts the Ivorian shaking hands, high-fiving and fist bumping his teammates. and his teammate Vedad Ibisevic bumping fists while discussing their recent wage cuts in a club changing room. There was also footage which seemed to show Jordan Torunarigha taking a COVID-19 test.

The DFL quickly tweeted a criticism of Kalou’s behavior.

“The pictures of Salomon Kalou from the dressing room of Hertha BSC are absolutely unacceptable,” it said in a statement. “There cannot be tolerated when other players and clubs have stuck to the guidelines because they have grasped the seriousness of the situation.”

Hertha then later announced they had suspended Kalou from training and “match operations” with immediate effect.

May 3

— Cologne enter training camp ahead of schedule

Hours after Cologne released a statement in response to their own Birger Verstraete’s comments, the Bundesliga club announced, pending political approval on the season being restarted, its plans to go into a training camp earlier than planned in the DFL’s medical concept.

This decision is a further step to reduce the risk of infection from COVID-19, although the team say this decision was made “regardless of the results of COVID-19 tests” at the club. The DFL task force states that, should the season go ahead, all teams will have to go into quarantine-like training camps one week before games restart. Cologne’s decision means they would prefer to start their training camp immediately.

The club have stressed that up until then training will continue under previous measures.

A decision about whether or not the Bundesliga season will return is expected on May 6.

— Sports minister backs Bundesliga restart

German Sports Minister Horst Seehofer has lent his support to the plan to restart the Bundesliga this month.

“I consider the timetable of the DFL plausible and support a restart in May,” The Interior Minister, whose portfolio includes sports, told tabloid Bild am Sonntag. “But it is also clear for me that there can’t be any privileges for the Bundesliga.”

The German Football League (DFL) and German Football Federation (DFB) propose games behind closed doors under strict conditions and government will make a decision, possibly on Wednesday, about whether the plan can be put in to action.

But the positive results found at Cologne on Saturday (see previous entry) cast more doubt on the situation. The DFB’s chief medical officer admitted to Sport1 that the system was not perfect.

“If there are too many positive cases, this system can certainly falter,” he said. 

May 2

— Tennis resumes in Germany

Professional tennis, which had been on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, has resumed in Germany – but in a very limited way. Yannick Hanfmann beat Dustin Brown 4-3 (7-4), 4-0 in a battle of the two top players at an exhibition tournament in the western town of Höhr-Grenzhausen on Saturday. The four-day event, which began on Friday, is being held without fans due to health regulations in force to combat the spread of coronavirus. Only the two players and the umpire are allowed on the court for the matches, which have been shortened to a maximum of seven games.  

At 143, Hanfmann is the highest ranked of the eight German players competing for $25,000 (€22,700) in prize money. Brown, a former top-100 player, is best known for having beaten Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon five years ago. 

Rhineland-Palatinate, where Höhr-Grenzhausen is located, is one of four German states that have allowed tennnis to resume since Chancellor Angelan Merkel and the 16 state premiers agreed on the easing of the coronavirus lockdown last month. It’s up to each state to decide what specifically is and isn’t allowed under the restrictions.

— European road cycling championships postponed

The coronavirus outbreak has forced the postponement of the European Road Championships in cycling by a year.  

“Due to the difficult situation affecting the whole world… the European Road Championships in Trentino (Italy) from 9 to 13 September will be postponed to 2021 and will be held in the same city,” the UEC, the sport’s European governing body wrote in a statement issued on Saturday. 

With elite racing suspended until the start of August, the sport’s most prestigious event, the Tour de France, had earlier been moved from July and is now scheduled to start on August 29. 

The European Road Championships are now to take place from September 1-5 or 8-12 in 2021. A final decision on the date is to be made by the world governing body, the UCI.   

— Cologne come in for criticism

FC Cologne are still hoping that they and the rest of the Bundesliga can resume the season behind closed doors later this month despite the fact that three members of the club have tested positive for the coronavirus.  

“We have reason to be very optimistic,” the club’s managing director, Alexander Wehrle, told German broadcaster Sky Sports News on Saturday.  

“We can continue training as we have been. The plan has been approved by the authorities and it is sustainable.”  

The three, who have not been named, are thought to be two players and a physiotherapist. None of them had shown any symptoms of the virus. 

However, the decision to continue the training routine and the plan for a resumption of play in mid-May are not without controversy. Karl Lauterbach, a prominent physician and member of the German parliament, took to Twitter to reiterate his criticism of the plan to restart the season so soon.  

“It’s utterly irresponsible for the players to continue training,” Lauterbach wrote. “They need to go into quarantine just as we would demand of any citizen.” 

He also noted that “anybody who trains while having COVID-19 is risking damage to the lungs, heart and kidneys.”  

May 1

— Cologne announce positive tests

Bundesliga club Cologne have announced that three of their staff, believed to be a physio and two players, have tested positive for the coronavirus. All are symptom free.

The club said they tested their entire team on Thursday and those affected will go in to quarantine for 14 days. They will continue to train as they have been. 

“The health and private sphere of players and staff have priority above all else. The previous measures, as well as the strategy of regular tests, have proven themselves so that we can now react with individual solutions,” said Effzeh’s managing director Horst Heldt. 

The positive tests may have an impact on the return of the Bundesliga, with the league hoping to play behind closed doors later this month.

— F1 looking to innovative solutions

The first ten races of the 2020 Formula 1 season have been canceled but organizers are still hoping to complete a truncated and rearranged campaign.

The sport’s managing director, Ross Brawn, said on Friday that doubleheaders are an attractive option as they aim start the season in a “biosphere” environment behind closed doors.

Austria is set to stage the first race on July 5 and there are suggestions that the Spielberg circuit would get another race the following Sunday, July 12. This could then be followed by two British races at Silverstone on July 19 and 26.

“It’s a real consideration because one of the logistical challenges is getting everyone tested and cleared to enter the paddock and enter the racing environment,” Brawn told a podcast published on the F1 website on Friday.

“And I think once we do that, it’s very attractive to keep everyone in that environment, within that kind of biosphere that we want to create for another race.”


+++ Coronavirus and sports: What happened in April 2020 +++

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