The German football league has reported that 10 people from clubs across the top two divisions have tested positive for the coronavirus ahead of a crucial meeting on Wednesday which could approve the resumption of the Bundesliga.  File Picture: AP/Martin Meissner
The German football league has reported that 10 people from clubs across the top two divisions have tested positive for the coronavirus ahead of a crucial meeting on Wednesday which could approve the resumption of the Bundesliga. File Picture: AP/Martin Meissner

Bundesliga resumption hangs in the balance after reports of 10 confirmed Covid-19 cases

By DPA Time of article published May 4, 2020

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The German football league (DFL) has reported that 10 people from clubs across the top two divisions have tested positive for the coronavirus ahead of a crucial meeting on Wednesday which could approve the resumption of the Bundesliga.

The DFL said the 10 came from 1,724 tests among players, coaching staff and physiotherapists from 36 clubs. It said that the 10 people were isolated immediately and will undergo quarantine measures according to rules from local health authorities.

The testing, with a second round this week, is part of the DFL concept to assure the Bundesliga can restart with matches behind closed doors.

The DFL said that it has also agreed with the labour ministry that all clubs will hold a training camp under quarantine conditions before a potential restart later this month. However,  their hopes could have been undermined by Hertha Berlin attacker Salomon Kalou, who posted a hastily deleted Facebook video which showed team-mate Jordan Torunarigha giving a sample for a coronavirus test and Kalou greeting team-mates by hand.

The DFL called the video "absolutely unacceptable" in a statement.

Bundesliga clubs have resumed team training this week after undergoing tests for the virus. The league hopes to resume playing behind closed doors some time this month.

On Wednesday German Chancellor Angela Merkel and state premiers will again meet to discuss easing lockdown restrictions with the possibility of resuming the Bundesliga again on the agenda.

Cologne said "the entire team, as well as the coaching and backroom staff," underwent a second test for Covid-19 on Sunday and an independent laboratory said they were all negative after three positives were reported last week.

The three people at Cologne - later revealed to be two players and a physiotherapist - went into quarantine after testing positive on Friday.

Team training would continue, said Cologne, while bottom club Paderborn started team training on Monday after their tests returned negative.

The DFL confirmed a report in Kicker magazine which said it recommended clubs do not publish results of their own tests but that a central announcement would be made.

While some clubs have issued their own statements or confirmed media reports, Augsburg, Borussia Moenchengladbach and RB Leipzig have not released information.

As part of the DFL concept for a return to football, it will not be automatically released to the media if a player tests positive for the coronavirus.

The issue of whether players should have access to tests, while apparently healthy, to enable them to work while members of the general population do not, has been a controversial part of the plan.

The spokesman for German interior minister Horst Seehofer dismissed the notion the Bundesliga was being "privileged" and broadly welcomed the concept.

Cologne player Birger Verstraete questioned why the entire squad was not put into quarantine after his club announced the positive tests though later rowed back on his criticism.

But football lawyer Horst Kletke does not believe players could legally refuse to play out of fear of infection should restrictions be lifted and matches behind closed doors approved to complete the season.

"If there is no contact ban or other restrictions which ban training or playing, the work must be done," he told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

However, players could not be forced to live in quarantine when healthy between matches. "Especially in this point the voluntary acceptance and agreement is needed, in work contracts there is no 24/7 requirement."

Werder Bremen advisory board chief Marco Bode admitted that forcing players to play was unrealistic even if legally possible.

"If we want to see games again in this Bundesliga season or in the coming first half of next season, we need highly motivated professionals who want to win in this situation just as much as before," he told Radio Bremen.

"And you can't do that when you don't want to. From my point of view we will never force anyone."

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