A few hours before the Executive Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Federal Chancellor-designate Olaf Scholz, together with the Prime Minister of the federal states, announced the measures with which German politics now want to fight the fourth wave of the corona pandemic, Hans-Joachim Watzke had already come out in public agile.

As luck would have it, Borussia Dortmund GmbH & Co. KGaA was going to hold the general meeting of BVB shareholders.

Watzke spoke there as BVB managing director.

Michael Horeni

Football correspondent Europe in Berlin.

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But in today's sporting political reality, the BVB boss has long been seen as the football official who speaks for all of professional football in Germany. It is only a matter of form that Watzke will also receive the official mandate of the German Football League (DFL) in two weeks' time, in order to then act there as chairman of the supervisory board and deputy spokesman for the DFL presidium. The BVB managing director, who is politically well-connected, not least in North Rhine-Westphalia, therefore appealed to politicians in advance to "keep things moderate in all seriousness with their Corona measures with a view to the spectators in Bundesliga stadiums - and not give in to populism." , “In order to possibly distract from one's own failures”.

The Bundesliga, said Watzke at the online meeting, is “responsible” and “ready to compromise”. The BVB managing director also announced that he would reduce the number of visitors to the top Bundesliga match against FC Bayern Munich this Saturday from 81,000 to 26,000 due to the high number of infections. But when the political decision was on the table a few hours later, that was not enough in the new Corona reality. Now the following applies: For the time being, only a maximum of 15,000 spectators are allowed to play football.

The federal government and the state leaders agreed that a maximum of 50 percent of the capacity may be used in the stadiums. In sports halls there can be a maximum of 5000 spectators. It is mandatory to wear a mask and the 2G rule, according to which only vaccinated and convalescent people are allowed access. Depending on the location and infection situation, a current corona test may also be requested. In some federal states with particularly high numbers of infections, there will be ghost games again, and cancellations are also possible.

"We are talking about a very difficult situation, about a very dramatic situation in the intensive care units in our hospitals," but at the same time there are "full, crowded football stadiums," said Olaf Scholz at the press conference in Berlin when asked why the Bundesliga stadiums are now different regulations apply. It is correct that in the context of the “different situations” there will now be “different regulations”. "But that you said it couldn't stay as it is and that you took a very drastic measure, that's good," said the Federal Chancellor-designate.

The Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder announced ghost games in the Free State for this weekend, initially the order applies to the current year. He understands that low-incidence countries want to go beyond what is allowed. But the people had "no understanding, not even the football fans," said Söder.

The Bundesliga, Watzke was to understand in advance, had hoped for less strict regulations, but will be able to live with the decision. Before the federal-state meeting, the BVB managing director had bet on stadium utilization, which should generally make it possible to fill a quarter to a third of the seats. But that is now also the case in the majority of stadiums with a capacity of less than 60,000 spectators. Everyone who bears responsibility in German professional football is of the opinion, for “reasons of protection against infection” and as a “sign to society”, “that we need a significant reduction in the number of spectators in this phase of the pandemic,” Watzke told shareholders on Thursday morning . Meanwhile - one has to add a few cases.

Last Saturday, the load factor at the Rhenish derby between 1. FC Köln and Borussia Mönchengladbach was 100 percent at the request of the Bundesliga club - and triggered a nationwide lack of understanding and outrage. On Wednesday, the corona incidence value in Cologne rose by leaps and bounds. “It was definitely not the game alone. But it helped. The game should never have been approved, ”tweeted SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach. According to the city of Cologne, as of Wednesday, there has been no case of infection in connection with the Bundesliga game on Saturday.

Before the federal-state talks, Söder had again called for nationwide ghost games across the country.

"It makes no sense in the foreseeable future to allow spectators again," said Söder before the meeting.

He sees it as an important requirement to adopt a nationwide regulation.

"If that doesn't work at the federal level, we would do it for Bavaria alone." Ghost games had already taken place in Saxony last weekend, Baden-Württemberg had announced them this week, as did Bavaria.

But from 100 to 0 within five days - politicians didn't want that, at least not nationwide.