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The Bundesliga Returned With An Echo, Now Fellow European Leagues Attempt To Cautiously Follow Suit

During the Bundesliga match between TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Hertha BSC at PreZero-Arena on May 16, 2020 in Sinsheim, Germany. The Bundesliga and Second Bundesliga is the first professional league to resume the season after the nationwide lockdown due to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. All matches until the end of the season will be played behind closed doors. (Photo by Thomas Kienzle/Pool via Getty Images)

I’m not sure how the meter works in the United States, but the return of the Bundesliga last weekend had FS1 letting everyone that would listen know that they had the best-metered market rating ever for a Bundesliga telecast. Everyone who loves soccer tuned in.

Bundesliga Back With A Bang (Echo)

And wasn’t it fantastic? The product on the pitch didn’t disappoint. Was it strange to watch soccer with no fans? Yes. It sounded like the games were being played at the local indoor swimming pool, such was the echo. But the alternative? The echo was well and truly worth it.

We saw plenty of goals and the standard set was high for some, and a little poor from others. We saw comebacks as well, but no real shocks with regard to results. The top five teams will fight it out over the next few weeks, and four of them will be hoping that Bayern Munich will slip up. You can keep an eye on FS1 & FS2 Friday through Sunday for the upcoming games. Friday’s Berlin Derby between Herta Berlin and Union Berlin (FS2) is definitely one to keep an eye on. But, the one that truly stands out, is Saturday mornings 7:30 a.m. MST kick-off between Borussia Monchengladbach V’s Bayer Leverkusen (FS2), 3rd V’s 5th.

How does that translate into the EPL you ask? Well, after the great weekend of soccer that went off without any major problems, and TV viewership through the roof; it showed the rest of the world that playing professional games is possible. And the healing power of sports was evident via social media. Even the casual soccer fans were glued to their TV’s, and folks that I’ve never seen mention the sport before even made reference to watching the games.

EPL Following Suit, But With Caution

EPL teams started their small group training on Tuesday. Of the 748 Covid-19 tests that were performed on EPL players and staff, six positive results came back. Three of those positive tests were at Watford alone (one player and two members of staff). And whilst teams are stepping up it is important to know the players that are maybe apprehensive of returning are seemingly well supported by their respective clubs. Watford’s captain, Troy Deeney hasn’t returned as of yet. He was concerned, he said, that black people are four times more likely to die from Covid-19 in the UK than the national average. He needed to protect his five-month-old son, who has had breathing difficulties. “It only takes one person to get infected within the group, and I don’t want to be bringing that home,” he said.

He could be seen to be overly cautious to the standard fan. There is a social issue at play in the data. In the United Kingdom, BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) communities are sadly, more likely to be in poorly paid jobs and be put in the position of having to go to work and ultimately be at a higher risk. And yes, Deeney isn’t part of the group with regard to his job, but the fact Deeney has taken the understandable and correct measures to protect his loved ones is being used as an easy jibe by some fearful fans. The backlash is a bit of tribalism at its darkest, because Watford is in a relegation fight. But honestly, we do not know enough about the data and Covid-19 to fully understand why some groups are impacted more than others.

The next step is for the EPL to go to full group training, once that happens you’re looking at 2-3 weeks before matches will start again. The second half of June has always seemed the most likely, and with Serie A in Italy already working towards June 13th as the agreed-on date it seems to be the next in line to return, followed by Spain and England.

Progress In Serie A

However, the Italian government on Tuesday announced the ban on all live sport until June 14th. May 28th is when the government will meet to discuss the Serie A’s new return date.

All 20 clubs in Italy last week agreed to start upping their training to small groups, and the Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora gave the green light for full group training this week.

It feels like we’re on the verge of a crescendo return to sports. Only helped by a well-organized government, in Germany. And for that I am grateful.

Until next time. Auf Wiedersehen. And keep safe.

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