Fans set to return to Bundesliga stadia

A maximum of 25,000 fans are set to be permitted to enter venues for major sporting events in Germany, under new guidelines issued ahead of the start of the 2021-22 Bundesliga football season.

The announcement follows a meeting of officials from Germany’s 16 states yesterday (Tuesday) and is designed to regulate sports events that attract spectator numbers in excess of 5,000. The new Bundesliga season is due to commence on August 13 and the guidelines have been rolled out as COVID-19 infection rates fall significantly across the country.

Under the rules, which initially will be applicable through to September 11, sports stadia will be able to admit fans at 50% capacity, up to a cap of 25,000 spectators. However, COVID-19 infection rates must not exceed 35 per 100,000 people over the previous seven days for this to happen. If infection rates rise above this number, a limit of 5,000 fans will be imposed.

Only fans who can prove they have been vaccinated, or can present a negative test, will be allowed entry and various hygiene rules must be followed. However, individual states have the option of adjusting the framework and this is set to impact on Bayern Munich.

The state of Bavaria has decided on maximum capacities of 35% for its venues, up to a limit of 20,000 fans, meaning that Bayern’s Allianz Arena is set to be limited to the latter figure. On Monday, the reigning Bundesliga champion said that it expects the pandemic to cost the club €150m (£128.5m/$177.4m) in lost matchday revenue.

Bayern welcomed 250 fans to its final home game of the 2020-21 season, a 5-2 win over FC Augsburg on May 22. The game represented the first time Bayern fans had been in the Allianz Arena since March 8, 2020, as COVID-19 restrictions in Bavaria necessitated closed doors matches.

Several Bundesliga clubs did welcome a limited number of fans earlier in the season, while Bayern was joined by some other teams in admitting a restricted number of fans for the final round of games. Those matches marked the first Bundesliga games with fans since October.

Commenting on yesterday’s announcement, Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, currently chairman of the Conference of Prime Ministers, said: “We have achieved nationwide success in combating the corona pandemic. This is shown by the low number of infections and the positive development of the vaccination campaign. 

“This gives us the leeway to once again allow spectators to attend major sporting events, other major events and above all major cultural events that are important to us. I therefore welcome the fact that the states have agreed on a common framework here. 

“Experience with protection and hygiene concepts gives us the framework for designing very prudent opening steps. However, it is certain, especially with a view to the dangers of new virus variants, that we must continue to be careful because the pandemic is by no means over. 

“I appeal to all participants in events and, as before, to all citizens, to continue to respect and observe rules and regulations. We must not, and do not want, to risk a fourth wave of the pandemic.”

Around 14,500 fans were allowed to attend UEFA Euro 2020 matches at Allianz Arena after the state government in Bavaria last month gave the green light for the venue to open at up to 20% capacity. The Allianz Arena hosted all three of Germany’s group stage matches at the tournament, as well as a quarter-final on July 2.

UEFA confirmed in April that Munich had retained its host status for Euro 2020 amid doubts over the Allianz Arena’s ability to allow fans.

Image: Saurav Rastogi on Unsplash