German Soccer League Will Resume Play In Empty Stadiums

Rain clouds draw over the stadium Veltins Arena and the rolled out pitch of Bundesliga club FC Schalke 04 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Wednesday, April 29, 2020. Despite a ban in Germany on all large gatherings through... Rain clouds draw over the stadium Veltins Arena and the rolled out pitch of Bundesliga club FC Schalke 04 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Wednesday, April 29, 2020. Despite a ban in Germany on all large gatherings through the end of August to fight the coronavirus pandemic, soccer officials are hoping to restart the league without spectators in May. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner) MORE LESS
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May 7, 2020 9:46 a.m.
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BERLIN (AP) — The Bundesliga soccer season will resume on May 16 in empty stadiums, picking up right where it left off two months ago amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Thursday’s announcement comes one day after clubs were told the season could resume following a meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors.

“The decision means economic survival for some clubs,” German soccer league managing director Christian Seifert said before noting that the virus was still an issue.

“Everyone has to be clear. We’re playing on probation. I expect everyone to live up to this responsibility. Our concept is designed to catch infections early.”

Seifert said the season will restart with the 26th round of games, including the Ruhr derby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke on the opening Saturday. That match will test local authorities who hope to keep groups of fans from gathering around the stadium or at bars to watch on television.

Seifert, who was speaking in Frankfurt after a video conference with members from each club, warned that everyone involved will need to maintain strict hygiene measures to ensure another suspension will not be necessary.

The Bundesliga was suspended on March 13 with nine rounds remaining. Seifert said the last round is now planned for the weekend of June 27-28. He said the second division will also begin on May 16.

Seifert said there have been 10 positive cases of COVID-19 in the first two waves of tests among the 36 professional clubs, with another two positive cases found in a third wave.

It was initially planned that teams would spend two weeks in quarantine before games could resume, but a compromise on shorter training camps in isolation for each team was reached because players have been undergoing regular tests.

As of Thursday, there were nearly 170,000 cases of the coronavirus in Germany, according to Johns Hopkins University, with more than 7,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19. However, the daily rate of new infections had been dropping since a high in early April.

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More AP soccer: https://twitter.com/AP_Sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

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