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German minister backs Bundeliga restart

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POLITICIAN: Horst Seehofer. Pic: Getty

POLITICIAN: Horst Seehofer. Pic: Getty

POOL/AFP via Getty Images

POLITICIAN: Horst Seehofer. Pic: Getty

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer yesterday backed a possible restart for the Bundesliga season this month without spectators as the government prepares for a key meeting next week.

Although Bundesliga clubs have returned to training in small groups, the league has been suspended since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic and the government is to decide next week on a potential resumption of sports activities.

The German Football League (DFL), eager for a quick restart, has submitted a health safety plan for games without spectators which includes regular testing of players but no quarantine for entire squads in cases of positive tests.

"I find the time frame of the German Football League plausible and I support a restart in May," Seehofer told Bild newspaper. "But for me it is also clear that there should be no extra privileges for the league."

He also said he was in favour of full-team quarantine in cases of positive test, something that is not planned in the DFL blueprint. "But I am in favour of trying to attempt to play again," he said.

The cash-strapped clubs and league are desperate to resume play as soon as possible, even without spectators, so the season can contractually finish by June 30.

Germany has suffered over 6,600 deaths from coronavirus with more than 162,00 people infected.

Serie A clubs are set to return to training grounds next week after getting the go-ahead from the Italian Government.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's plans to ease lockdown restrictions had initially made provisions for individual athletes to resume work from today, with team sports scheduled to follow suit on May 18.

There were reports that the disparity of that approach was being challenged by some regional assemblies and the prospect of some top-flight clubs resuming while others remained banned from doing so has seemingly forced a change of heart.

Sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora called for a review of the decision and both Corriere dello Sport and Gazzetta dello Sport quote a communique signed by interior minister Matteo Piantedosi which allows for high-performance centres to open their doors provided social distancing measures are observed.

"Athletes and non-athletes of non-individual disciplines, like every citizen, are allowed to participate in individual sports in public or private areas, respecting the interpersonal safety distance of at least two metres," the note reportedly said.