In the Corona hotspot Berlin: Union in front of fans against Freiburg

Berlin (dpa) – Despite a drastic increase in the number of infections in the Corona hotspot Berlin, 1. FC Union is allowed to play its home game against SC Freiburg in front of around 4500 spectators.

The responsible health department in the Treptow-Köpenick district approved a corresponding hygiene concept for the Bundesliga soccer team on Thursday. While access for fans is being increasingly reduced across Germany due to the worsening of the pandemic, a total of 5,000 people, including the teams, should be there on Saturday (3.30 p.m. / Sky) in the An der Alten Försterei stadium.

Berlin’s health senator Dilek Kalayci (SPD), however, called for it to be better not to come. “I understand the passion for football,” said Kalayci when asked by the German press agency. “But I’ll stick to it: Avoid social contacts. If possible, stay at home,” she said to the address of the citizens. The health department has otherwise checked the approval of fans according to the necessary regulations, Kalayci also said.

The district office of Treptow-Köpenick had announced shortly beforehand that the “present revised hygiene concept from 1. FC Union” complied with the “requirements of the current infection protection ordinance”. And the letter went on to say: “So far, there is no evidence of an outbreak in connection with a regulated event with a limited number of people (…) and in compliance with the known hygiene guidelines.”

These guidelines include that chants and chants are prohibited in the stands. In the event of a violation, this will now also be announced in the stadium, explained communications manager Christian Arbeit. The Union fans had recently violated it in a test match against Hannover 96 and the club had not yet actively stopped them. However, there was no penalty for this. In addition, the obligation to wear mouth and nose protection in the stadium will be tightened again, said work at a press conference.

The fact that the local authorities allow an event of this size comes as a surprise. It was only on Tuesday that the Berlin Senate decided that masks should be compulsory for weekly and Christmas markets and for ten particularly busy shopping streets. Governing Mayor Michael Müller spoke of a “worrying situation” in the capital. “Beyond a lockdown, politics no longer has many options to adopt measures that prevent precisely that,” said the SPD politician.

In contrast, Unions league competitor FSV Mainz 05 has to reduce its audience due to increased corona numbers. Instead of the last 250 against Bayer Leverkusen, only 100 spectators are allowed into the stadium against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday. At RB Leipzig, the quota for the home game against Hertha BSC has been reduced from 8500 to 999. Tickets that have already been sold will be canceled and the new tickets will be raffled among previous buyers. The German women’s international match against England in Wiesbaden will only be played in front of 50 spectators next Tuesday.

Despite a seven-day incidence value of more than 100 in Berlin, Union can hope that the stadium will be around 20 percent full if the Senate does not overturn the decision. This had already happened once at the beginning of the Corona crisis. In March, the local authorities in Treptow-Köpenick initially decided that FC Bayern Munich could be played in front of fans. This decision was reversed a little later. There was a ghost game.

The Union stadium with a capacity of around 22,000 is one of the most atmospheric in Germany. The Berliners urged the fans to return early in the Corona crisis. For this they had presented a concept with preventive mass tests and originally even planned to play again in front of a sold out house at the beginning of the season. These plans have so far failed, but should be pursued further.

“I think it’s nice that spectators are allowed to be in the stadium,” said Union coach Urs Fischer with a view to the encounter against Freiburg’s equal points. But it is “a new feeling when spectators are there and have to be quiet,” added the Swiss coach, who understands this measure: “There are rules that have to be followed. That’s why we have to deal with them.” Freiburg coach Christian Streich said: “It is irrelevant whether I think it makes sense. I assume that those responsible make their decisions in such a way that nobody is at risk.”

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