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Coronavirus: Bundesliga games behind closed doors could still be 'devastating'

3 months ago
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Jorg Radek, deputy chairman of the German Police Trade Union, warned against restarting games in the Bundesliga, even behind closed doors.

The Bundesliga playing games behind closed doors could cause "devastating" scenes of fans gathering outside stadiums, the deputy chairman of the German Police Trade Union has warned.

Germany's top flight, like the majority of European leagues, is suspended due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The top two tiers in Germany are suspended until at least April 30, with mass gatherings having been prohibited by the government until the end of August.

However, this month German Football Federation (DFL) chief executive Christian Seifert said discussions were in place over a return to action in early May with matches behind closed doors.

Seifert confirmed the DFL's plans to continue with the season and that the start date will be May 9 so long as the plan gets government backing.

But senior union official Jorg Radek believes doing so would pose a risk to public health.

"Maybe it is possible to control what is happening in the stadium. This does not apply to the public space in front of it. The stadiums become a potential target for fans who want to support their team," Radek said in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

"That would be devastating. We can't have large crowds outside the stadium gates. It's not only forbidden, it would be irresponsible.

"It becomes relevant to the police at that moment, we then have to ensure that the requirements that currently apply to behaviour in public space are complied with - the requirement of a distance of one and a half metres, the ban on the assembly of large groups, the wearing of masks.

"We will have to intervene in terms of maintaining security and order if this is not guaranteed.

"I want to state that we as a police union are not fundamentally against football games.

"I can also understand that there is a need for many people to stop watching old international matches or old Bundesliga games, but we must not forget what special situation we are all in - this includes the police.

"Games behind closed doors are a danger, even if the organiser does everything in the stadium to ensure that hygiene regulations are observed in order to keep the risk of infection as low as possible."

He said the DFL plans do not appear to cover such aspects and spoke of the prospect of an "additional burden" on police.

"Running the league on the weekends is a huge burden for us even without a corona pandemic," said Radek. "By pausing, we gained a personnel reserve that we could fall back on to increase our presence elsewhere."

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