German sports Minister backs Bundesliga restart; Cologne player concern
FRANKFURT – German Sports Minister Horst Seehofer supports a Bundesliga restart later in the month amid the coronavirus outbreak while Cologne player Birger Verstraete expressed concern after three positive cases at the club.
"I consider the timetable of the DFL plausible and support a restart in May," The Interior Minister Seehofer, whose portfolio includes sports, told the Bild am Sonntag Sunday paper.
"But it is also clear for me that there can't be any privileges for the Bundesliga."
The German Football League (DFL) and German Football Federation (DFB) has created a manual for a restart behind closed doors later this month, under strict health regulations and with frequent tests for players and staff.
Clubs hope that the government will give the go-ahead on Wednesday.
In the interview conducted before Cologne on Friday announced three positive test result from within their ranks, Seehofer insisted that strict rules had to be followed.
"If there is a corona-case at a team or the team staff then the whole club and possibly also the last opponent must go into quarantine for two weeks."
DFB and DFL task force chairman Tim Meyer told broadcasters Sport1 late Saturday that the system could never be completely foul-proof and would remain vulnerable.
"If there are too many positive cases, this system can certainly falter," the DFB chief medical officer Meyer said, urging strict discipline from everyone to make things work.
Meyer said he wasn't surprised about the positive tests as almost 2,000 tests have been conducted at the clubs and said their main aim was "achieving a medically justifiable risk with a bundle of measures" and it would take up to five weeks to see if the system really worked.
Verstraete meanwhile expressed scepticism that measures the club took after the positive tests were the right ones as he named restart efforts "naive."
In accordance with the task force manual, and supported by local health authorities, the three - two players and a physiotherapist - went into quarantine for two weeks while the rest can continue training in small groups and with social distancing in place.
Midfielder Verstraete told VTM television in his native Belgium, as reported by the Het Laatste Nieuws paper late Saturday, that it was "a bit bizarre" only the three were placed in quarantine.
"The physiotherapist is the man who treated me and other players for weeks. And I formed a duo with one of the two players in question in the gym on Thursday," he said.
It was therefore "not quite right" that no other members of the Cologne team had come into contact with those affected.
The report said that Verstraete's girlfriend is a heart patient and therefore part of a risk group, making him extra cautious.dpa