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Football has returned in Germany, and it all seems to have gone quite well.
So well, in fact, that people are apparently already talking about getting the fans back into the stadia.
“There is an interesting development in Germany, because the economy is opening up very rapidly now,” said Rafa Honigstein on the Totally Football Show this week. “Some Prime Ministers of the federal states have actually talked about some fans, in restricted numbers, coming back as soon as September. So in a ground with an 80,000 capacity could have 20,000 people.
“Whether that’s logistically possible or not remains to be seen, but I think there is some movement towards that, and if the Bundesliga can keep playing without any major interruptions I think that might create its own momentum to maybe hasten the return of fans.”
It feels pretty premature, but the return of the Bundesliga went so smoothly in its first weekend back, that it’s probably inevitable that people get ahead of themselves a bit.
“I think people were surprised to some extent how quickly they were able to get into it, and for it not to be totally unwatchable. The numbers were incredibly high in Germany – of course it helped that Dortmund v Schalke was a huge draw.
“At the same time the opposition from the ultras, from the organised fans will only intensify. They still don’t like what is happening, and I don’t think they like the fact that people’s attitudes are softening towards this, and getting used to it.
“The ultras would prefer the season stops, and that football only comes back when it’s safe [for everyone]. Nobody has been able to put forward a scenario where that is actually financially possible, but the ultras have said “look, it’s not our problem – it’s football’s problem if the wages are so high you can’t cope with three or four months out. Maybe you should change the system, maybe the players should take 50 or 50 per cent pay cuts.”
“I don’t think its a realistic proposal, but it is ideologically sound. That’s their position, and I don’t think they’re concerned whether it can be done or not. I think it’s important for them to voice this opposition, which is a fundamental one.
“Nobody’s pretending this is an ideal solution, and it’s going to be fine until the end of the season. The clubs are still very careful to make the point that this is an emergency measure and should be seen as such.
“Of course the Bundesliga’s success in ratings, the worldwide attention they got and the broadly positive PR, at least for the moment seems to suggest they got the basics right.”
This is all obviously a long way from happening in the Premier League, with some players, never mind the fans, expressing their reservations about playing again. But as Alvaro Romeo pointed out, minds can be changed.
“In Spain we had a case where a player from Cadiz [Fali] in the second division, a couple of weeks ago he was totally against playing, and he was very vocal, but thanks to the Cadiz president and the club psychologist, he was persuaded that playing football wasn’t that dangerous.
“There will be plenty of work for club psychologists with players not ready to play – or mentally ready to play.”
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