German football 'on parole' in return from coronavirus pause - DFL chief

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German Football Association (DFL) chief Christian Seifert has said the Bundesliga is playing "on parole" following the announcement the top two tiers will return to action on May 16 after a suspension caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bundesliga had been suspended since March 13 and games will be held behind closed doors, with a ban on mass gatherings in Germany in place until at least Aug. 31.

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The German government gave professional football in the country the all-clear to return to action after the DFL took great efforts to present a plan on how to play in a near risk-free environment.

The league presented a detailed 51-page medical plan for match operations to return and after minor adjustments it was passed by the political decision-makers. Keeping in mind that football is a contact sport, the plan has been put in place to avoid infected players taking to the pitch.

"Everyone in the league must be aware that we are playing on parole and every match day is a chance to prove that we deserve the next one," Seifert told a news conference on Thursday.

"We can't relieve anyone of this responsibility, and I wish for everyone to fulfil this responsibility -- just like thousands of other workers and employees do in other branches every day.

"If you do not have the virus, you can not spread the virus. And you must do all you can to avoid getting the virus."

Earlier this week, Hertha Berlin forward Salomon Kalou livestreamed a video of events inside the German club's training facilities. He greeted teammates with physical contact, most of the players shown did not observe the social distancing rule and he burst in on a teammate's coronavirus test. Kalou was suspended by the club and later apologised.

Bundesliga players have, in general, welcomed the return of football and public opposition has been nominal so far. Cologne's Birger Verstraete last weekend had voiced criticism in his native Belgium, but later backtracked in quotes released by the Bundesliga club.

On Thursday, Union Berlin defender Neven Subotic, 31, told BBC World Service returning to full team training felt strange and the return might come too soon.

"It's just going to be a lot of risk management and trying to get a finished season with the fewest casualties," Subotic, a two-time Bundesliga-winner with Borussia Dortmund, said. "I am critical of how everything's been managed but we understand that it's a difficult situation for everybody.

"No matter when we start, it will be too soon. If we start in a few weeks, it will be too soon. Even if we start in a few months it may be too soon."

All Bundesliga teams must go into a seven-day quarantine training camp prior to the restart of the season next weekend. Hertha became the last club to resume full team training and clubs have been training in small groups from early April onwards.