Is it a curse or a blessing? The great German football debate is raging over the launch on Saturday (May 16) of so-called “ghost games” with no fans in the stands.
While rabid football fans around the world, starved for sports — any sports — are preparing for a weekend in front of their flat-screen TVs, coaches and players are unsure about whether the games should even be held at all.
Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann is trying to see the positives of the Covid-19 situation, according to a report by China.org.cn.
“It is as simple as this: Fans have to be replaced in this situation. The best way to deal with that is to accept it and see the positive effects,” the 32-year-old commented.
Nagelsmann believes players might concentrate much better on their primary tasks if fewer emotions are prevailing. The coach of the club based in eastern Germany is convinced crowds reactions usually influence players, the report said.
“Now, there is a chance to focus purely on footballing aspects. They can make decisions separate from emotions imported from the outside,” Nagelsmann added.
The RB coach said he sees the remaining nine rounds of Bundesliga matches as something like a European Championship, the report said.
“It doesn’t feel like league competition anymore, more like a tournament. You have a break, a preparation phase, and then its kick-off.”
Like Nagelsmann, the German national team’s sports-psychologist Professor Hans-Dieter Hermann recommends turning the challenge into a chance. He stresses players have to be aware that millions are watching.
“Many things might happen with fewer emotions. Players have to remember that they can help secure the economic future of their clubs.
“As the ones on the bench replace the crowd, a new team spirit can be created,” Hermann commented. “Mental preparation is important,” he added. “This is like a new season.”
The majority of the 36 first and second division clubs are relying on the support of additional psychological staff, the report said.
Several teams have started to play practice matches in silence to simulate the situation ahead. Some have even kitted out the teams they are facing in the shirts of the upcoming opponents at the weekend.
The CEO of the German Football League (DFL) is facing an extremely challenging emergency situation, the report said.
“What we are trying to do is far from orderly conditions. It’s an emergency program,” Christian Seifert emphasized.
Everyone has to be aware that, “We could well have to deal with setbacks, and everything has to get through it all,” Seifert added.
The 2019/2020 season is planned to run until the end of June. But some experts predict it could even take until July should there be more infections, the report said.
If infection cases are taken as category 1 contacts, a 14-day-quarantine is inevitable. Type 2 only requires infected players to be isolated for seven days.
Meanwhile, Dynamo Dresden placed their entire squad into a 14-day quarantine, after the club reported two more cases of coronavirus.
The decision means that Dynamo, who are bottom of the second division, will not be able to play their fixture against Hanover this weekend.