German states agree to 10,000 stadium capacity limit

German sports fans have been permitted to return to venues in increased numbers through a new agreement struck between the country’s 16 federal states, but this weekend’s Bundesliga football action is still set to see varying attendances.

For outdoor events, stadium capacities are now set at 50%, albeit capped at a maximum of 10,000 spectators, while indoor arena capacities have been set at 30%, with a maximum of 4,000 fans permitted.

Germany is currently coping with rising COVID-19 cases, with the country yesterday (Thursday) reporting a record 236,120 new daily cases. The new capacity rules come complete with strict measures and for major national events, the “obligation to wear at least one medical mask” applies.

However, the need for each individual state to update their own regulations and agree to apply the new guidelines means that the 10,000 limit will not be met universally across this weekend’s Bundesliga games.

Tonight’s clash between Hertha BSC and VfL Bochum at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, is set to remain at the previous 3,000-limit with the Berlin Senate not due to address the new regulations until next week. Meanwhile, Lower Saxony has elected to retain a 500-capacity rule.

However, North-Rhine Westphalia has decided to adopt the new regulations immediately meaning that the games between Arminia Bielefeld and Borussia Mönchengladbach, FC Köln and SC Freiburg, and Borussia Dortmund and Bayer 04 Leverkusen are set to be watched by crowds of 10,000.

Borussia Dortmund’s sports director, Michael Zorc, has welcomed the news that Signal Iduna Park will welcome more fans, but stated that more needed to be done. “The stadiums are much fuller abroad, which creates economic disadvantages for the German clubs,” Zorc told Kicker. “Now the pandemic is hitting the office. Most clubs are currently not doing well economically, that’s a fact.”

Meanwhile, Donata Hopfen, CEO of the German Football League (DFL), said the news is “gratifying, but certainly only a beginning on the way to normality”. Hopfen stated, according to DW.com, that moving forward a solution needs to be agreed that is “understandable, practicable and forward-looking… not with a fixed upper limit, but with a step-by-step plan, for example”.

At the previous decision-making session on January 24, the federal and state governments agreed that uniform rules should be agreed on by February 9. As a result of this, Bavaria upped the ante for its fellow states by relaxing restrictions on fan attendance, paving the way for Bayern Munich to welcome up to 10,000 supporters for its next home match, tomorrow’s meeting with RB Leipzig.

Stadia in Bavaria were permitted to open at a maximum capacity of 25% or with 10,000 fans – whichever is the smaller number.

Image: Derek Willis on Unsplash