May 14

— Bundesliga could stretch in to July

The Bundesliga season could be extended to July if it is not possible to complete all games by June 30, the DFL has announced.

At a meeting of its members on Thursday, a unanimous decision was reached to try to finish the season at all costs. A final decision on relegation will be reached within two weeks. 

The DFL also announced that teams will be allowed to make up to five substitutions in games, and that fixtures could be moved to neutral venues at short notice should it be considered necessary.

— DFL split on issue of relegation

Major differences of opinion have emerged regarding the relegation rule, in the event of a forced end to the season. According to Kicker, eight of the 18 Bundesliga clubs voted against a DFL proposal during a video broadcast. The proposal suggests sticking to the principle of promotion and relegation — even if the season is abandoned.

The motion has “caused a lot of unrest and sparked a discussion”, Werder Bremen’s supervisory board chairman Marco Bode told Sky. Bremen are currently second to last in the table, ahead of Paderborn. According to Bode, Bayern Munich and Borussia Mönchengladbach were among the critics.

“This scenario is highly unlikely, but it should be settled,” said Peter Peters, the chairman of the DFL supervisory board.

The final vote on the matter is now likely to be postponed until next week.

May 13

— Bayern’s Rummenigge anticipating ‘billions’ of TV viewers

As the Bundesliga is the first top European soccer league to restart its season on May 16, Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge expects “billions” to tune in.

“The Bundesliga is now the first major league in the world to resume playing. And if the Bundesliga is the only league around the world to be broadcast on TV, then I assume that we will have an audience of billions all over the world,” Rummenigge told Sport Bild, a German sports magazine.

“It will not only be an advertisement for our football, for the Bundesliga, but also for the whole country and especially for German politics, which made this possible with its very good approach.”

— DFL proposal: promotion and relegation regardless of season completion

According to draft proposals seen by German magazine Kicker, the DFL will propose holding firm and promotion and relegation regardless of whether or not the German football season is completed when the 36 clubs of Germany’s top two divisions meet on Thursday.

Though the aim is to complete all 34 matchdays in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 by the end of June, the DFL proposes the top two divisions should still have 18 teams each. 

Past proposals reported by German media have suggested that the Bundesliga could have 22 teams in the 2020-21 season as to not punish either the top-flight teams trying to avoid the drop and the second-tier clubs fighting for promotion.

The DFL will also propose allowing for game venues to change at the last minute should circumstances allow it.

— German sports minister welcomes Bundesliga restart plans

Germany’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, whose functions also include those of a sports minister, said he backs the plans to restart German football, provided that clubs show the “highest discipline.”

“The risk is there, and therefore the highest discipline is required,” Seehofer told a press conference in Berlin.  “I am excited [for the return of football].”

May 12

— German clubs to discuss integrating five substitutions

The 36 clubs in Germany’s top two divisions are set to meet on May 14, two days before football is scheduled to resume, to discuss hygiene guidelines and the possibility of allowing teams to use five substitutions.

“A decision will be taken on increasing the substitution quota to five players for the current season, after the International Football Association Board (IFAB) has opened up this possibility,” the German football league (DFL), which governs Germany’s top two divisions, said in a statement.

IFAB cited the health of players when it decided to allow clubs to use five substitutions instead of the normal three when football returns from its coronavirus hiatus. 

Some players in the Bundesliga have picked up injuries as clubs try to prepare for the season restart on May 16. Borussia Dortmund midfielders Axel Witsel and Emre Can missed the club’s first two training matches with injuries, while Wolfsburg’s Yannick Gerhardt picked up a facial fracture over the weekend.

Marc Lorenz, a midfielder for second-tier side Karlsruhe, warned of “fatigue and serious injuries” when the football returns, telling the a local news outlet Badische Neuste Nachrichten that five substitutions wouldn’t help.

— Austrian Bundesliga to return June 2

The Austrian football association (ÖFB) has received the go ahead from the Austrian government to restart the football season, the association confirmed.

“Green light! The federal government, the ÖFB and the [Austrian Bundesliga] have agreed to the basic conditions for the continuation of Bundesliga match operations,” the ÖFB confirmed on Twitter.

The government and football bodies agreed that players who test positive for COVID-19 must stop training and quarantine at home. Teammates are allowed to continue training and playing matches as long as they test negative for the disease.

The 12-team Austrian Bundesliga was about to enter the second stage of its season when the league went on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. Each team still has 10 matches to play, with the top six and the bottom six facing off in the championship and relegation rounds respectively.

“If we don’t start now, then the football landscape in Austria would become unrecognizable in a year,” ÖFB president LeoWindtner told a press conference in Vienna.

May 11

— Women’s Bundesliga set to return, cup final date announced

While the men’s Bundesliga is set to resume this weekend, the future of the women’s equivalent had looked a little less certain, until an announcement on Monday.

The competition can return on May 29, while the third tier of the men’s game can resume from May 26 or 27, pending approval from local health authorities, the DFB (German Football Association) said. Both competitions will return behind closed doors in accordance with a ban on large scale public events in Germany until the end of August.

The DFB also announced rescheduled dates for the German Cup. The semifinals between Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt and Saarbrücken and Bayer Leverkusen will be played on June 9 and 10 with the final set for July 4.

— No professional sports in UK until at least June

No sporting events will be able to take place, even behind closed doors, until at least June 1, the British government announced. 

However, in a 50-page document outlining measures to relax coronavirus restrictions, the British government said it is looking into “permitting cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed-doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact.” The measure is part of “step two” of a three-step plan to reopen the country, one that will kick in on June 1 providing a number of criteria are met. 

The government said having spectators in stadiums “may only be fully possible significantly later depending on the reduction in numbers of infections.”

The document’s release comes as English Premier League clubs were to meet later in the day to discuss plans to restart the current season. The league has to provide UEFA, Europe’s football confederation, with a restart plan by May 25, even if play would not resume until June.

— Bundesliga to miss out on €70 million in revenue with empty stadiums

The 36 clubs in Germany’s top two divisions stand to lose €91 million ($98.4 million) in matchday revenue since games will be played behind closed doors, according to a report in Kicker, a German sports magazine.

Football in Germany is set to resume in the Bundesliga and second division on Saturday with empty-stadium matches, known as “Geisterspiele” (ghost games) in German.

The Kicker report estimates that Bundesliga clubs will lose €69.661 million with matches behind closed doors, while second division clubs will lose €22.029 million.

According to figures from the German Football League (DFL), which govern’s the top two divisions, matchday revenue accounted for 12.9% of total revenue during the 2018-19 season at €520.1 million.

Kicker reported in April that 13 of the 36 clubs in Germany’s top two tiers face insolvency due to the coronavirus pandemic. One of the clubs is reportedly Schalke, who ended the 2019 financial year with debts of almost €200 million ($217.7 million).

— Gladbach CEO: Club is ‘healthy, but not rich’

Borussia Mönchengladbach CEO Stephan Schippers revealed that his club lost between €10 million and €13 million during the Bundesliga’s two-month hiatus and could reach €32 million, though Gladbach remains solvent.

“The crisis is a great financial strain for Borussia, but has not threatened the existence [of the club],” Schippers said.

“Borussia Mönchengladbach is healthy, but not rich. We will cope during the crisis, but how big the losses are can only be quantified at a later date.”

May 10

— Nine positive tests in European teams 

A total of nine players in England, Spain and Portugal tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

Premier League club Brighton confirmed one new case and Portuguese Primeira Liga team Vitoria Guimaraes reported three, while five players at various clubs in Spain’s top two divisions have also contracted the virus.

Brighton, who have not revealed the player’s identity, have now had three positive cases since March, and the club have confirmed that its players will continue to train at its training base individually.

Vitoria Guimaraes confirmed that all three of their players who tested positive were asymptomatic and had been advised by the club to self-isolate, while the rest of the squad would continue individual training after returning last week.

This comes as each league continues talks on how to restart its seasons, with La Liga insisting that the new cases won’t derail their efforts.

La Liga said it will “continue to apply the back-to-training protocol” and warned everyone to keep following health safety measures suggested by authorities so the numbers of infected players “remains very low.”

— UFC fighters warned against speaking out

UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) fighters taking part at the UFC 249 event in Florida could lose their purses and bonuses if they publicly criticize the fight promotion’s health precautions for COVID-19, according to an event participation agreement.

Despite the pandemic, the UFC is staging three cards in eight days in Jacksonville, Florida and fighters taking part in the May 9 event were asked to sign an eight-page event participation agreement.

It states that “the participant will not suggest or communicate to any person or entity” that the events “have been or will be held without appropriate health, safety or other precautions, whether relating to COVID-19 or otherwise.”

It goes on to say that if a fighter does breach this clause, “the company may revoke all or any part of any prize monies or awards won … including, but not limited to, purses, win bonuses, other fight-related bonuses and event-based merchandise royalties.”

— Two coronavirus cases at Dynamo Dresden

Second-division side Dynamo Dresden have reported two further COVID-19 cases following a third round of tests.

The whole squad and coaching staff will go into quarantine for 14 days.

The club’s sporting director Ralf Minge said: “Fact is that we can’t train or compete in the next 14 days.”

This means the team will likely not be able to play in their scheduled game against Hannover on May 17.

The football league DFL’s Managing Director Christian Seifert told public broadcaster ZDF that the measures were not enough reason to delay the restart of the Bundesliga.

Seifert added, however, that “there is a point when it is no longer feasible. It always depends on how much time you’d have left to finish the season.”

The Bundesliga announced this week that it would restart on May 16.

May 9

— F1 without fans “better than nothing”

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton believes races without spectators are not ideal but worthwhile if it means the season can start.

F1 is planning to begin without fans in Austria on July 5 with the first 10 races of the season postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus crisis. 

“I don’t know how exciting it is going to be for people watching on TV but it is going to be better than nothing,” the 35-year-old said. “For us it is going to be like a test day. But…racing is racing. I really do miss it,” he added.

— Portugal cut from Vuelta

This year’s Vuelta a Espana will no longer go through Portugal, organizers announced on Saturday.

The annual Grand Tour race is one of the most prestigious in the world and has already been postponed from August until October due to COVID-19.

The two-day swing into Portugal follows the Netherlands in being cut from the race and means that stage 15, with its finish-line located between Porto and Matosinhos, as well as stage 16, with its departure from the city of Viseu, are off the route.

— Quit quarantine for newborn?

Captain of second-division team Darmstadt Fabian Holland has said he would quit the team’s quarantine ahead of next weekend’s season restart in order to witness the birth of his child.

Bundesliga and second-division sides are having to spend the build-up to matches in hotels as part of required quarantine measures. If Holland were to leave the camp he would not be allowed to play in the match.

“The due date is in one week. So it could be at any time,” the 29-year-old defender said. “When the time comes, I will leave the training camp immediately. That’s the deal.”

Union Berlin defender Neven Subotic has been critical of the decision to return

Union Berlin defender Neven Subotic has been critical of the decision to return

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

— Spanish defender refusing to play

While Subotic is unhappy with the DFL’s decision to restart the Bundesliga, he hasn’t said he won’t play. But that’s precisely what Rafael Gimenez, better known as Fali, has done. The 26 year-old defender who plays for second-tier Spanish outfit Cadiz, refused to undergo COVID-19 testing as part of the first phase of the sport’s return to activity in the country. 

I’m afraid of infecting someone, that would ruin me and I’m putting health before money,” Fali told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser, adding that he would voluntarily give up his wages while refusing to play. 

— 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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