By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Seifert endorses return of Bundesliga fans and renounces talk of 'competitive disadvantage'

Emerging from a league-wide meeting involving representatives from all three leagues, DFL President Christian Seifert had strong words for anyone critical of the varying speeds clubs are operating at to bring fans back.
DFL-Boss Christian Seifert emphatically rejected the notion that differing plans for allowing Bundesliga fans back into stadiums would constitute a competitive advantage for some clubs. The German football league president spoke out after a virtual meeting with all 36 professional Bundesliga clubs on Thursday.

“I think it’s far too conceited to speak of a ‘Wettbewerbsverzerrung’ (‘competitive distortion’),” Seifert noted after the meeting. He added, speaking metaphorically, that none of the club representatives broached the topic at the meeting. “Thankfully, no one tried to stick anyone with that sharp sword today.”

Some, most notably VfL Wolfsburg managing director Jörg Schmadtke, has publically criticized the fact that some clubs will be hosting more fans than others. “It makes a big difference if one club has 10,000 or 15,000 fans in their stadium while others only have 500,” Schmadtke told the website SportBuzzer, “Then there’s no longer a level-playing field.”

Earlier this week, RB Leipzig announced plans to allow in up to 8,500 season-ticket holders for their opening 2020/21 Bundesliga encounter against FSV Mainz 05 on September 20th. Other clubs reportedly mulling over plans to permit a limited number of spectators in for their season opener include 1. FC Union Berlin, Eintracht Frankfurt, and Hertha BSC. Yesterday, third-tier side Hansa Rostock announced plans to open their turnstiles for a Pokal-match against VfB-Stuttgart on September 13th.

Seifert made clear that the issue was not, and should not be, a topic of contention. Essentially, the league’s highest ranking official expressed wishes for a fearless approach to the COVID pandemic. Seifert warned that the fear of potential consequences should not paralyze those making decisions on the return of live audiences. He advocated dealing with the uncertainties both “aggressively and carefully.”

According to Seifert, the return of fans could serve as “a very important and positive sign; a sign that thousands of people want to and can adhere to hygiene rules.”

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