By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

A Tale of One City: Hertha BSC cancels fans while FC Union Berlin fights on

DFL boss Christian Seifert did more than announce he would resign after his contract expires in June 2022 on Monday. The League President also weighed in on the current state of Bundesliga fan access amid the global pandemic's winter wave.

Seifert took a step back from his previous position on the matter and used a uniquely German idiomatic expression to indicate that another era of spectator-free ghost games may be at hand.

There exists no real English equivalent for the German caution against "painting the devil on the wall". The best one can do is convey that Seifert urges clubs against "inviting trouble" or "playing with fire".

Two clubs in the same city interpret the coming wave of COVID infections quite differently.

It's simultaneously the best of times and worst of times in the country's capital.
Hertha BSC officially announced on Monday that they would call off spectators for this coming weekend's round six encounter against VfL Wolfsburg. Berlin's larger capital club had welcomed a limited number of fans into the Olympiastadion twice already this season, most recently in round four.

"Due to the current rise in incidence figures in Berlin and the surrounding areas, the capital city club is suspending [ticket] sales until further notice," a statement on the club's website read. Hertha also noted that they arrived at this decision after consulting directly with the Berliner senate.

Across town, FC Union Berlin just welcomed 4,500 live fans this weekend for their match against Freiburg after obtaining approval for an improved hygiene concept from local officials. Union President Dirk Zingler defended his club's approach to implement a safe fan concept, reiterating that the onus is not on clubs to request permission to hold such events. According to Zingler, state officials should "give a good reason why they must be cancelled."

Berlin mayor Michael Müller (SPD) remains on record as stating that he finds no major fault with small-scale public open-air events. Müller's words stop shot of outright endorsing such gatherings, but indicate that some public officials believe there is no empirical evidence suggesting that large-scale contagion events occur when they are properly executed.

Zingler wrote a letter directly addressed to the club supporters. He directly thanked all those who attended the weekend fixture against Freiburg. "Once again, the creative ways you responded to the trust we bestowed upon you proved key to meeting a challenge," Zingler wrote.

Zingler assured Union boosters that the club "had not lost its moral compass" and promised to continue to fight for the right to allow fans into the Stadion an der alten Försterei.

"It remains our responsibility to use our framework responsibility and create the safest possible [public] event offerings," Zingler continued, "We've done so in recent weeks and in the most recent case [the Freiburg match]. We wish to continue to do so."

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