German football will be the centre of attention this weekend as audiences starved of live football turn to the only major European league back in action. Not all sports fans will get a taste of the action, though.
It’s particularly grim if you’re South African. Live sport – without fans – is unlikely to return even if South Africa moved to Level 3 of lockdown. Unless there is a dramatic turn of events before the Bundesliga kicks off again, South African’s won’t be able to catch the live action on SuperSport either.
With the Premier League, Spain’s La Liga and Serie A in Italy all still sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic, the Bundesliga can put on a show.
Even in Brazil, media coverage has switched from domestic football stories to what TV viewers can expect to see when Borussia Dortmund meet Schalke in the biggest match of the opening day, albeit it without spectators in the stadium.
Cable channel Fox Sports, which holds exclusive rights to show the Bundesliga in Brazil, will be showing the Ruhr Derby at 9:30 local time. Its website already features a lengthy article about the games entitled “The wait will soon be over”.
Even Brazil’s biggest media group, Globo, is getting in on the act with interviews with four Brazilians who play for Bundesliga clubs, including Wolfsburg midfielder William, who admitted players were “a little bit scared” about the implications for their health.
In India, foreign football leagues have found a market in India’s urban youth who keenly follow the Premier League and support clubs like Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United. But a few of these fans also watch La Liga and Bundesliga.
In Japan, rightsholder Sky Perfect is going to show two Bundesliga matches this weekend free of charge.
In Europe too, the matches in Germany will provide a much-needed fix of live sport.
In Mexico, football journalists are grateful for something to cover – and the sorely-missed revenue live sport generates.
“For those of us who make a living from football the fact there hasn’t been any activity really affects us. A weekend without football is really difficult,” said Emilio Fernando Alonso, a Mexican reporter for ESPN.
In China, where the Super League might not begin until June, German football’s meticulously planned return is being closely watched.
Writing in the Oriental Sports Daily, columnist Ji Yuyang said the biggest challenge for the Bundesliga was not restarting during the pandemic, but being able to outlast it because of financial pressures that clubs were facing due to the health crisis.
“Half of the teams in the top two leagues are in danger of going bankrupt, according to estimates in Germany,” Ji wrote.
“So for many German clubs, whether it was better to wait for failure or risk restarting, they chose the latter.”
Bundesliga on SuperSport
Back in South Africa, though, there’s bad news for sports fans who have kept their subscription to the pay channel. SuperSport will not broadcast the live-action this weekend as they do not have the broadcast rights.
Bundesliga fixtures this weekend
Grim, here’s what you’re missing on the live soccer front this weekend if you’re beholden to SuperSport.