German soccer set to recommence

The German Bundesliga is poised to become the first sports league I follow to go back to work. In fact, players are already at work. They are practicing in anticipation of matches to be played in early May.

When the Bundesliga season came to a halt, teams had nine matches left to play. And, for once, there was a genuine race for the championship. Normally, Bayern Munich has the top spot all but locked up by mid-March. This season, though, three additional teams were in contention. Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, and Borussia Mönchengladbach are all within six points (two games, in effect) of Bayern.

The men from Munich are in the driver’s seat, but still have plenty of work to do. If they experience even a slight “hangover” from the lengthy hiatus, the Bundesliga might have a new champion.

What will the resumption of play look like? The games will be played without fans present, a particularly unfortunate outcome in Germany, given the phenomenal atmosphere at German stadiums — probably the best of any major soccer league in Europe.

League officials estimate that 240 people, including players, coaching and medical staff, match officials, and production staff, will be needed for each game. All will have to be tested for the Wuhan coronavirus. Because Germany reportedly has an abundance of tests, performing the necessary testing won’t jeopardize the nation’s ability to keep monitoring the general population.

The Wuhan coronavirus has not spared Germany. Its number of reported cases is about the same as France’s and not that far behind Italy’s and Spain’s, though considerably fewer on a per capita basis. Moreover, Germany continues to report about the same number of new cases per day as France and Italy.

What has distinguished Germany is its comparatively low number of deaths (as we discussed here and here). Germany reports fewer than 6,000 deaths due to the virus, which translates to 67 per million people. Italy, Spain, and France are all at more than 20,000 deaths and range from 335 to 474 per million people.

The other big difference is in active cases. Germany has around 44,000 and the number is declining fast. France, Italy, and Spain are all at around 100,000 with no real decline.

In England, where soccer officials are talking about possibly starting up soccer in July, the number of active cases is increasingly rapidly. So too, in the U.S.

Thus, unless you like to watch German soccer, which Fox Sports broadcasts, you will probably have to wait a few more months before you can watch live sports on television.

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