Sports leagues around the world are working to map out a return to action in some form or fashion due to various COVID-19 shutdowns. In the United States, the NBA and NHL had to press pause late into their seasons, and it is unclear when they’ll be able to resume. Meanwhile, MLB did not start, MLS barely got off the ground, and while the NFL is going through its offseason, things like free agency and especially the draft have been impacted.
Other leagues around the world have struggled with this too, as evidencing in China, where its top basketball league has been unable to restart. But in Germany, a country that has received praise for how it has handled and contained the novel coronavirus, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for its top professional sports league.
According to the New York Times, the top executive of the Bundesliga revealed that plans are being put together to get the top two German football leagues on track to play at the start of May, while players for each club are already back in training.
The Bundesliga’s chief executive, Christian Seifert, said in an interview that plans were being put in place for games to return at all 36 stadiums by the beginning of May, with the remaining nine games of the schedule to be completed by the end of June, a time when some of Europe’s other top leagues may not yet have returned from their hiatus. England’s Premier League, soccer’s richest domestic competition, is unlikely to return until July at the earliest.
Understandably, these games would occur without fans in attendance, and the league would work to make sure that various proper protocols are in place to keep people safe — for example, Seifert made it a point to mention that supplies will not be moved to make sure footballers can get taken care of so they can play games. He also mentioned the league’s role in providing a sense of normalcy to Germans as life resumes after the virus.
“We are part of the culture in the country, people long to get back a short piece of normal life, and that could mean the Bundesliga plays again,” Seifert said. “This is why we have to play our role here, and that means to support the government and to talk with the government about when we will be able to play again.”
It will be a fascinating experiment to follow, as “play games but make sure everyone stays safe” is a road every league is exploring right now. And as an added bonus, the Bundesliga might be the most entertaining major professional sports league on earth — games frequently turn into goal-fests, it has some of the most exciting young talent on earth, and the top-five teams atop the table are separated by eight points with nine matches left to play. Going from no sports to getting the Bundesliga, of all leagues, back would be like going from 0-to-60 in the blink of an eye.
Even beyond all of that, seeing any sports right now would be great, as long as players, coaches, and various workers needed to make sure games can occur are able to safely make sure games can go on. The Bundesliga believes that day is coming soon, and here’s to hoping they end up being correct, if only because a misreading of this would be disastrous.