Soccer in Germany is back on the pitch on Saturday as the Bundesliga becomes the first of Europe’s top leagues to swing back into action since the coronavirus lockdown.
The German Football League (DFL) convinced Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s regional leaders to allow play to resume by agreeing to submit to an extraordinary set of guidelines to prevent infection.
The stadiums will be empty and silent except for the players’ shouts and the referees’ whistles – Germany has suffered far fewer deaths from coronavirus than other large European countries, but it is still too dangerous for crowds to return.
Borussia Dortmund will take on local rivals Schalke 04 in the Ruhr Derby on Saturday.
That fixture would normally have attracted an 82 000 crowd to Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park but supporters will be locked out.
On Sunday, Bayern Munich, who were four points clear at the top of the table when the season was suspended in March, will resume their quest for an eighth successive Bundesliga title when they play in the capital against Union Berlin.
Players and staff are being tested regularly and each club has been in a week-long quarantine ahead of the matches.
Teams will arrive at stadiums in several buses in order to meet social distancing requirements inside the vehicles. Once on the pitch, players can’t hug to celebrate goals while substitutes and coaches on the bench must wear protective masks.
But while the world watches, South Africans and SuperSport subscribers won’t The channel does not have the broadcast rights to the league, meaning soccer-starved fans will have to wait a little while longer before they see live action back on their screens.