The German Bundesliga kicked off on Saturday and gave a glimpse into what the Premier League and other top leagues may look like if they resume into their title race.
Football thirst was quenched when the German Bundesliga resumed yesterday with Dortmund thrashing Schalke 4-0. Besides that, South Korea’s K League kicked off last weekend while smaller leagues like Belarus and Nicaragua never stopped despite the COVID-19 threat.
As witnessed yesterday, all eyes were on Bundesliga being the first European League to return to the pitch. Coronavirus has thereof brought changes to the “fever-pitch” as leagues preparing to resume must adapt to the new reality.
So, how will 2019/20 football played behind closed doors with some social distancing in look like? Let’s take an example of German Bundesliga.
Temperature checks, several buses, and disinfected balls
Teams arrived on several buses and players could socially distance on their journey to the game. Players and staff had all been quarantining in team hotels all week and are being tested for coronavirus regularly.
As they left the busses, they wore facemasks on their way into the ground. Other people attending the games, including the media, had their temperatures checked.
Fans were banned from matches with police patrolling to make sure no crowds gathered at the venues. Only 213 people were allowed into the ground-98 on and around the pitch and 115 in the stands.
Another 109 people were allowed just outside the stadium including security and VAR operators.
Footballs were disinfected by ball boys before the game and again at half-time.
Substitutes and coaches wore masks and socially distanced on individual seats on the bench.
RB Leipzig who drew with Freiburg 1-1 brought in a seat of airport stairs so players could get to and from their seats in the stands.
Head coaches were allowed to go without a mask so they could shout instructions to their players. Substitutes took off their masks to warm up and when players were replaced, they were handed a mask before reaching the bench.
Elbow bumps instead of hugs
The actual play itself was no different from normal tackles. But there was some social distancing on the show for goals as may strikes were celebrated without the usual embraces. There were elbow bumps instead of hugs.
With only a few dozen people making noise on the benches, television viewers could hear the players and managers talking. Sounds of the ball being kicking and the back of the net were heard too.
Teams were allowed to use five substitutes in a game. So, Schalke in their 4-0 defeat by Dortmund was able to make two substitutions at half-time and another three after the break.