The German Bundesliga enters its third round. It's now seventeen days since a nation-wide 20-percent-capacity countenance effectively gave every Bundesliga club the right to allow supporters back into their venues. Here at Bulinews, we've been reporting on the weekend plans of clubs across the Germany since the Pokal round. This will be our fourth consecutive week detailing the nation-wide concepts.
Autumn arrives and COVID infection rates are rising in Germany. The increases are, as of yet, not statistically alarming. Nevertheless, two of the nine fixtures scheduled to take place this weekend have already been declared "Geisterspiele" (spectator-free "ghost games"). It's a highly likely that a third match will take place behind closed doors, leaving fans access to a total of six matches.
In a new feature this week, we aim to perhaps better illustrate how the Bundesrepublik's data-driven COVID stabilizer works to shut down public events in the country's hot spots. Using data provided by Germany's Süddeutsche Zeitung, we'll provide the current snapshot of infection rates in each of the nine locales hosting fixtures.
Tho reiterate what may be the most important piece of data keeping Germany safe: The Robert Koch Institute recommends canceling public gatherings whenever a seven-day-average of new infection rates exceeds 35 per 100,000 inhabitants.
|Photo: Steffen Prößdorf, CC BY-SA 4.0|
Friday, October 2nd
FSV Mainz 05 (at) 1. FC Union Berlin (4,300 spectators)
Local COVID Incidence Rate Average = 21.7 (-13.3 RKI Stabilizer)
Berlin being a city of nearly four million inhabitants, the capital cannot merely rely on a 100,000 inhabitant metric. It is for this reason that the city-state issued a broad ban on crowds of over 5,000 at public events. Union's cross town rivals Hertha, can only thus fill their Olympiastadion to 5.3 capacity.
The stadion an der alten Försterei, as a much smaller, venue can continue to take advantage of the 20 percent capacity upper limit. The Eisernen actually have had to reduce the number of spectators they initially allowed into a pre-season friendly to get under the cap.
Plans should proceed without incident. Union continues to wish to lead the way with a new full capacity concept to be tested out on October 25th.
Saturday, October 3rd
SC Freiburg (at) Borussia Dortmund (11,500 spectators)
Local COVID Incidence Rate Average = 23.7 (-11.3 RKI Stabilizer)
The BVB aim to set the attendance record for a post COVID lockdown crowd in Germany. Having only three days to cobble together a concept when the national assent was given shortly before the first round, Dortmund were only able to operate at 12.3 percent capacity for the club's opener against Gladbach.
The target audience for this weekend's match still doesn't aim for the full 20 percent capacity cap, which would be 13,200 spectators in Signal- Iduna Park. Dortmund preferred to focus their efforts on distributing more tickets to those living outside of the municipality. As noted a couple of weeks back, the club's supporters hail from many remote areas of Nordrhein-westfalen.
The Schwarzegelben developed some concepts to reach their more disparate fans. If the full 11,500 attend, the match will break the previous post-corona-era crowd of 10,383 in Gladbach.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (at) Eintracht Frankfurt (10,300 spectators)
Local COVID Incidence Rate Average = 25.6 (-9.4 RKI Stabilizer)
Frankfurt ups its quota to take full advantage of 20 percent capacity in the newly remained Deutsche Bank park. The SGE operated at approximately 12.6 capacity in the first round encounter against Bielefeld. As one can see above, infection rates remain safely below the threshold.
As is often the case with Frankfurt, the more interesting fans story concerns its colorful ultras. The Adler diehards still decline to attend home matches until standing terraces, visiting fans, and alcohol sales are once again permitted. When the German Bundesliga gets its ultras back, we'll have truly known that true German football fandom has returned.
Borussia Mönchengladbach (at) 1. FC Köln (likely Geisterspiel)
Local COVID Incidence Rate Average = 36.4 (+1.4 RKI Stabilizer)
One doesn't necessarily have to be Nate Silver to see that the numbers don't add up here. Köln were forced to cancel plans to allow in fans for their season opener after local infection rates rose to an average of 34.8 two weeks ago.
Die Geißböcke look set to disappoint thousands who have bought tickets for the second fixture in a row. Seeing as how the cathedral city prepares to host two national team games next week, its almost impossible to see them proceeding here.
Arminia Bielefeld (at) SV Werder Bremen (Geisterspiel)
Local COVID Incidence Rate Average = 36.4 (+1.4 RKI Stabilizer)
The city-state of Bremen took immediate action when their seven-day-infection rate rose above above the recommended levels. As has been noted previously in this space, Bremen's political establishment is insanely technocratic.
The Hanseaten were able to host 8,500 fans for their season opener against Hertha in round one. The rise in infection rates triggered a sad reversal of plans to repeat the feat.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen (at) VfB Stuttgart (12,088 spectators)
Local COVID Incidence Rate Average = 24.9 (-10.1 RKI Stabilizer)
Stuttgart Chairmen Thomas Hitzlsperger kept his word and moved the Mercedes Benz Arena from roughly 13 percent capacity in the first round to approximately 18 percent in the third. He also honored his promise to the fans to only increase ticket prices gradually.
Despite this, it looks as if die Schwaben will not challenge Dortmund for the new post-COVID attendance record this weekend. Sales have sluggish even as local infection rates are safely away from the boundaries.
FC Schalke 04 (at) RB Leipzig (8,500 spectators)
Local COVID Incidence Rate Average = 4.7 (-30.3 RKI Stabilizer)
Leipzig will essentially carry out the exact same concept announced when they became the first Bundesliga club to plan for fans in league fixtures. Infection rates have been dropping precipitously in the country's East and the drop cannot be solely explained by fewer citizens volunteering for tests.
The controversy regarding the Rostock fans seems like eons ago for many who have been following this issue closely. No infection clusters were reported from the event and rates continue to fall.
Sunday, September 27th
FC Augsburg (at) VfL Wolfsburg (6,000 spectators)
Local COVID Incidence Rate Average = 1.6 (-33.4 RKI Stabilizer)
One must take care to emphasize that figure above is not, in fact, a typo. Infections remain almost non-existent in Wolfsburg; a pure company town most Germans will have only traveled to in order to watch a football match.
Those new to the Bundesliga may not actually know that the VfL remains a relatively new incarnation. For many years, this unhistoric club met with the same general loathing currently reserved for Hoffenheim. Solid European performance and likable ultras eventually won enough Germans over.
The jokes about Wolfsburg's low attendance numbers still persist. Many Germans got an easy laugh out of their friends recently by remarking that Wolfsburg would have filled their stands to 20 percent capacity whether there had been a pandemic or not.
Hertha BSC (at) FC Bayern München (Geisterspiel)
Local COVID Incidence Rate Average = 36.0 (+ 1.0 RKI Stabilizer)
It increasingly appears as if the predictions made long before the season began were spot on. The German giants may well be the final Bundesliga side to allow fans through the turnstiles. The team that currently seeks a record six trophies in one calendar year may be the greatest team that almost no one ever saw live.
Munich officials announced that the FCB would host its record third Geisterspiel (after round one and the DFL Super Cup) in less than three weeks. The infection rate in Southern Bavaria stubbornly hovers around the critical boundary and may remain there for some time.