LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Joshua Kimmich of FC Bayern Munich celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Champions League group B match between Tottenham Hotspur and Bayern Muenchen at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on October 01, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Joshua Kimmich of FC Bayern Munich celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Champions League group B match between Tottenham Hotspur and Bayern Muenchen at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on October 01, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Germany serves as blueprint for rest of world

Germany captain Manuel Neuer says Bundesliga footballers have an "enormous responsibility" after the league announced Wednesday it will restart from May 15, having been granted permission to resume from Angela Merkel's government.

The German Football League (DFL) confirmed the restart date for the top two divisions, with the clubs to finalise details in a video conference on Friday morning (EST).

Earlier, German Chancellor Merkel gave permission for the Bundesliga to resume behind closed doors, amid strict hygiene measures and regular testing of players.

It will be the first of Europe's top leagues to restart since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

"People will be looking at us from other European countries, indeed all over the world," Bayern Munich goalkeeper Neuer told Frankfurt-based newspaper FAZ.

"This is an enormous responsibility for us, which we must be aware of with every fibre. It is now up to us."

He said the players must ensure the league returns successfully.

"Now it is up to each individual at each club to bring this concept to life in a disciplined manner," added Neuer.

"We are particularly responsible for tens of thousands of jobs in diverse industries that live with, and through, football.

"And we are responsible for all those fans for whom football is a big part of their lives."

Bayern, chasing an eighth straight league title, were four points clear when the Bundesliga was halted on March 13.

However, there remains fierce debate in Germany whether football should return. The virus has claimed over 7000 lives in the country.

Hertha Berlin striker Salomon Kalou was suspended by his club earlier this week and slammed by politicians for shaking hands with team-mates in a video, flaunting social distancing guidelines.

 

 

Big threat to Premier League

The English Premier League season could be cancelled if teams do not agree to play the remaining 92 fixtures in neutral venues amid the COVID-19 pandemic, says League Managers Association chief executive Richard Bevan.

Professional football in England has been suspended since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 32,000 people in the United Kingdom, the highest death toll in Europe.

Discussions are continuing about resuming matches after clubs were told on a EPL conference call earlier this month that only neutral venues approved from a health and safety point of view will be allowed.

Asked if the 2019/20 campaign would be cancelled if teams voted against playing in neutral venues, Bevan told the BBC: "Yes, I think that probably is correct."

"The government, if they haven't already, will be making it clear that home matches with densely populated stadia, really puts into question whether social distancing rules can be adhered to."

But Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow warned that clubs would not support measures increased the risk of the "$384 million catastrophe" that is relegation.

Villa, having played a game less than those around them, sit in the relegation zone as things stand, two points behind West Ham - who are outside the bottom three on goal difference - with Brighton a further two points better off in 15th place.

"Personally I'm against it," Purslow said on the UK's talkSPORT radio.

"We're a club that prides itself on home form. Two-thirds of our wins this season have come at home.

 

"We've got six home games left to play and I think any Villa fan would agree that giving up that advantage is a massive decision for somebody running Aston Villa and I certainly wouldn't agree to that unless those circumstances are right."

Brighton - for whom Socceroos Mat Ryan and Aaron Mooy play for - also are opposed to the idea of playing their remaining games at neutral venues and LMA chief Bevan said clubs needed to get on board with the proposal if the season was to go ahead.

Originally published as At last! World sport set to resume



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