The Bundesliga became the first major sports league in the world to return to action in the coronavirus era this weekend, and the first phase of the German experiment was successful, according to most indicators.
It looked and seemed different from normal in stadiums with no fans, no handshake and almost no atmosphere and with masks where there were mascots.
But the first day of Bundesliga matches also went without major incidents.
There were no massive rallies of supporters outside the stadiums, which resulted in the games being abandoned.
In Signal Iduna Park, 81,000 fans generally gathered inside for the 180th derby match between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke.
Instead, only 213 were allowed, close to the minimum required for the match to be played, keep the players safe and make the match televised. Dortmund won the match comfortably 4-0.
Sebastian Wessling, a German soccer writer, was only one of ten journalists allowed inside after his temperature was tested and he agreed to wear a face mask throughout the match.
“The players didn’t really celebrate,” he said. “They went the distance, only applauding, so it was a very, very strange feeling, almost like a test match. “
In Germany, the decision to return from the Bundesliga after more than two months of absence divided some.
Ultra fans believe that fanless football is not football at all, while others object that they believe it prioritizes a game over the health of the nation.
“There is a large part of the public who are also against it because they think we have enough other problems at the moment,” said Wessling.
“We don’t have enough childcare centers. Schools don’t start but football starts so we don’t like it. “
In the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the lockdown was further relaxed on Friday, allowing cafes, restaurants and bars to reopen.
Many Dortmund fans gathered inside the Maximilian Bar in the main market square to watch the derby on several large screens.
“It is a disappointment that we cannot be inside the stadium to watch,” said one fan. “But at least football is back, we have something to do with our weekends. “
Another fan was in conflict. “Talking to people, I know some people are angry because they think millionaires who hit a ball get special treatment. “
Premier League clubs are expected to vote on Monday on whether to return contactless training and executives will monitor and evaluate whether the Bundesliga experience is successful or not.
“We have received calls and emails from major clubs in Spain and England and I know they really hope that we will manage this situation so that other leagues can also restart,” said Schalke sports director , Jochen Schneider.
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“We know how important it is to restart and end the season as well. We all agree that this will not change much by August, September and October, so if we are unable to play now, why will we give the green light to play in September, October, November. “
The return of football, with all the anticipation it caused, was not normal, it was not ideal. But it was still football and it’s probably the only design by which the game can return to the midst of a global pandemic.