The Bundesliga season opener on Friday between reigning champions Bayern Munich and Schalke (live on ESPN+ in the U.S., 2.30 p.m. ET) will be played without fans, the city of Munich has ordered on Thursday due to a rise in coronavirus infections locally.
The seven-day incidence, the average number of infections per 100,000 over the past seven days, rose from below 34 to 47.6 overnight in the Bavarian capital.
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“It would send the wrong signal,” Munich’s mayor, Dieter Reiter, said in a statement. “It’s bitter for the fans and club, I am aware of it. But the crisis is not over yet. We all need to be aware of it.”
Earlier this week, the heads of the German federal states announced a uniform decision to allow fans back into football stadiums — and other sports arenas — amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. They said clubs could allow a maximum of 20% of the capacity back in.
However, they recommended that a seven-day incidence above 35 in a host city should lead to the next league game to be played behind closed doors.
Bayern, who won the Champions League in August to complete the Treble, had prepared for the return of 7,500 supporters to the Allianz Arena, which has a 75,000-capacity.
The Bayern Munich fans will now have to wait for at least another fortnight before they can celebrate the extraordinarily successful 2019-20 season with their team and finally see them back in action in a stadium.
The news reached Bayern head coach Hansi Flick at his prematch news conference after he had previously said that he welcomed the return of fans.
“It is like it is. And this [the pandemic] will be with us for a long time. Let’s see what the future brings. We can only stand to the rules and handle this situation professionally,” Flick said.
All other Bundesliga games on the opening day of the 2020-21 season, as of now, will go ahead with fans, with the number of supporters in attendance ranging from 500 at Wolfsburg to around 10,000 at Dortmund.