Bundesliga fans back in stadiums but tracking virus stats SOCCER
DÜSSELDORF, Germany, Sept 24, (AP): There’s a new stat grabbing Bundesliga fans’ attention. It’s not expected goals, distance run or passing accuracy, but the coronavirus infection rate.
The return of fans to the German soccer league last week came with a catch. If there are too many infections in the host city, a circuit-breaker rule kicks in and fans are banned again. That’s causing chaos for clubs.
Schalke fans face uncertainty over whether they can attend the first home game of the season Saturday against Werder Bremen. The club could otherwise have allowed in as many as 12,000 supporters, but the infection rate remains above the circuit-breaker level despite a slight drop Thursday.
Last week, high infection rates stopped Bayern Munich from hosting fans against Schalke in the season opener after the mayor said it would send the wrong message.
Less than 24 hours before Cologne was due to host Hoffenheim in front of fans, the circuit breaker kicked in there too. An hour’s travel away, Borussia Dortmund hosted 9,300 fans for its 3-0 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach.
The magic number is 35 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants over a sevenday period. Any higher, and games should be held without fans. Schalke’s home city of Gelsenkirchen was at 39.1 on Wednesday and 37.6 on Thursday according to the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s national disease control center.
The circuit breaker rule was a compromise added during tense talks between state politicians last week, just before the league season began. Otherwise, supporters are allowed to attend up to 20% of the stadium capacity, though some local officials have set their own, lower limits.