Shortly after word leaked that the DFL would cancel it's first Bundesliga match due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, confirmation came that Hertha's upcoming fixtures against SC Freiburg (Wednesday, April 21st) and FC Schalke 04 (Saturday, April 24th) would also be postponed
Focus suddenly shifts to how and when the 2020/21 German Bundesliga season will be completed.
|Photo: Martijn Mureau, CC BY-SA 4.0|
Two months after virtually the entire globe entered lockdown last March, the German Bundesliga became the first major sporting league to re-start its season. The DFL and DFB, propelled by Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel's intrepid claim that "Germany can afford a little audacity", went much bolder than its global counterparts, completing the full program of 2019/20 campaign in all three professional footballing flights before any other suspended league on the planet.
One year on, the very same Bundesrepublik that became lead the way in partial re-openings lags behind most other nations in its efforts to get its population vaccinated. Many parts of the country find themselves in austere lockdowns as the country grapples with a "third wave" of infections. Sporting-wise, it's now questionable that the FA can schedule an orderly conclusion to the season.
The corona-infections forcing top tier side Hertha BSC in an ordered 14-day-quarantine could not have come at a worse time. Ahead of an "English Week", the DFL has had to postpone three full fixtures. Somehow, the schedulers must find a way of completing these matches before the season is scheduled to conclude on May 22nd.
To stretch matters beyond that date threatens to push financially crucial relegation games too close to the time club players are scheduled to report their national team training camps for the European Championship. Conflicts arise. In his interview with "Bild Live" DFL boss Christian Seifert expressed confidence that this could be accomplished.
"My gut feeling is that the league can be decided on May 22nd," he said, "It is out of the question to consider a suspension of the season at this point."
Seifert explicitly ruled out interrupting the season, but was not asked about more stringent measures for Germany's 36 professional clubs. All players under the DFL/DFB purview last spring were subject to strict isolation protocols as part of the FA's Hygiene concept.
All many will recall, players and coaches were not allowed to congregate in groups larger than pairs outside of training and confined to individual hotel rooms when traveling. Augsburg coach Heiko Herrlich famously saw himself suspended for his first match as FCA trainer after leaving his room to buy toothpaste and hand creme.
Make-up dates for the three suspended games are expected to be announced next week. The DFL and DFB may announce more rigorous rules long before that. Additionally, any further cancellations could lead to the pause button being pressed on the season if, like in March 2019, an editorial outcry in Germany's press demands it.