German health minister backs football restart plan, slams Kalou


Berlin (AFP) – Germany’s health minister has backed the Bundesliga’s plan to resume in 10 days time with final approval on the league’s return due on Wednesday.

“The (football league’s) basic concept makes sense and could serve as a model for other professional sports. But we have to see how it goes,” Jens Spahn told radio station Deutschlandfunk on Tuesday.

The German Football League (DFL) hopes on Wednesday to get the go-ahead to restart the season from May 15 when Chancellor Angela Merkel’s meets the 16 state leaders via a conference call.

However, the restart plans were thrown into question on Monday when testing of players, coaches and backroom staff produced 10 positive cases, three of which came from top-flight side Cologne.

It also emerged that not all players are following the league’s strict hygiene guidelines.

Hertha Berlin suspended Ivory Coast striker Salomon Kalou on Monday after the ex-Chelsea forward posted a video of him shaking hands with team-mates at training, violating hygiene guidelines.

Hertha immediately suspended Kalou, 34, who is out of contract at the end of the season, and Spahn welcomed the sanctions.

“It was important that the club show there were consequences after this video,” added Spahn.

“And I hope that everyone has now understood that this is about something serious.”

Germany has been less affected by the pandemic than other European countries, with 163,860 cases and 6,831 deaths, figures partly attributed to mass testing.

A DFL task force has drawn up a hygiene concept, involving regular testing for all 36 clubs in the top two leagues, which has been backed by a host of key politicians.

Both Spahn and Horst Seehofer, Germany’s minister for sport and the interior, have given their approval as have the premier ministers of football hotbeds Bavaria and North Rhine-Westfalia.

Should German football resume, Spahn said the Bundesliga could become an “export hit” as the first of Europe’s top five leagues to restart.

“I think it makes sense for professional sports to come step-by-step into a new, everyday life, but we have to see what happens,” Spahn added.

“The clubs must be able to guarantee that their players, regardless of how young or old they are, follow the rules.”

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