Circles in Crisis (

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The Bremen team around Maximilian Eggestein (right) failed to keep Charles Aranguiz and the Leverkusen team at a distance.

Photo: imago images / Marvin Ibo Güngör

A lot came together in Bremen late Monday evening. As usual, the footballers of SV Werder felt disillusioned. After the clear 1-4 defeat against Bayer Leverkusen, the hope for relegation in the penultimate table is probably more based on the belief in their mathematical ability than in their own strength. The relief, on the other hand, would have been huge – for everyone who had fought for weeks and with all means to restart the Bundesliga.

The fearful look in the Hanseatic city of the last game of the first ghost match day by those responsible for the German Football League (DFL) and the clubs as well as the political supporters of the restart has its reasons. Bremen’s politicians have long been critical of the wishes of the multi-billion dollar entertainment industry of professional football. An example: Following the Bremen application, the Federal Administrative Court ruled in March 2019 that federal states could bill the DFL for additional police costs for high-risk matches. A decision by the Federal Constitutional Court is still pending. Possibly the much criticized special role of professional football in the corona crisis influences the opinion.

Warning words had also come from Bremen before the game against Leverkusen. Interior senator Ulrich Mäurer had threatened to ban future ghost games if fans gathered in front of the stadium and did not keep the minimum distance. The SPD politician also expressed his general rejection: »At this time, I consider the start of the Bundesliga to be irresponsible. According to a recommendation from the Robert Koch Institute, we have banned all major collections in Germany. «

Now, after the first 17 games in the first and second Bundesliga, it can be said that the concept of the DFL works. More or less. Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder, who has developed into a kind of national political spokesman for professional football in the past few weeks, praised the “successful experiment”. In the event of violations of the hygiene concept, at least some of which have become public, the CSU politician raises his index finger and repeats the mantra that professional football is playing “on probation” and “under observation”.

There were no consequences yet. Although the rules, for example in the case of contact restrictions or quarantine regulations, are far more generous than for most of society. How far away from reality professional football is becomes even clearer in the crisis. “We currently have restrictions that are not so pleasant,” Markus Gisdol complains about quarantine life. It’s “not a nice one,” wails the coach of 1. FC Köln. And “blatantly” he thinks that his Augsburg colleague Heiko Herrlich was not allowed to look after his team in the game against Wolfsburg just “because he was shopping.” He was still allowed to sit in the stadium, although not on the coaching bench.

Not surprisingly, but not only professionals, trainers and supervisors violate applicable rules and show little insight. Ignorance is exemplified from the very top. “Again, this scenario is highly unlikely,” said Peter Peters at the end of last week about a possible end of the season. The head of the DFL supervisory board does not believe that the corona virus could blow up the tight schedule. He doesn’t have to, if violations have no consequences. The fact that Dynamo Dresden sent an entire team from the responsible health authority to a two-week quarantine in accordance with the requirements made the DFL very annoyed, but it remains an isolated case.

The accusation that professional football lives in a parallel universe has been around for a long time. Despite humble words, he never left it at the beginning of the corona crisis – and continues to circle after being allowed to play. “If we had a crisis in German football in the past few years, we had to look for it at the DFB,” Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge attacked the German Football Association. President Fritz Keller previously criticized the “generosity of new rich football millionaires” as the reason for the image damage of the sport. Even the DFL had argued similarly. No matter. And the recent crisis that 13 professional clubs would be insolvent immediately if the season ended? To forget. Likewise the much promised solidarity. Professional football has apparently shown this sufficiently with donations of nine million euros – 2.4 percent of last year’s DFL turnover – to the DFB.

Bremen also knows a lot about a lack of solidarity. The DFL passed the fee notices on the incurred police costs in the amount of 1.17 million euros directly to SV Werder.



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