While the Dutch and the French FA have decided to end the current season, the 2019/2020 Bundesliga season is set to continue at the end of this month according the plans of the DFB. Matches will be played behind closed doors, known as “Geisterspiele” (ghost games) in German. Numerous fan and ultra groups have already spoken out against the resumption of football in the current situation, with individual statements and by displaying banners across their cities.
The question when and in what form professional football should continue has been the subject of many discussions in the past few weeks. In this still partly confusing social situation, a variety of ethical, epidemiological and other arguments were put forward by various people.
In the following, we would like to comment on the topic as a nationwide association of fan scenes and with a view to the DFL general assembly:
The resumption of football, also in the form of ghost games, is not justifiable in the current situation – especially not under the guise of social responsibility. An early continuation of the season would be a mockery of the rest of society and especially those who are really committed to serving the corona crisis. Professional football has long been sick enough and should remain in quarantine.
Football is of great importance in Germany, but it is certainly not systemically important. Restrictions that apply to comparable areas of the sports and entertainment industry must also apply in football. At a time when we are all accepting very massive restrictions on our fundamental rights in the interests of the common good, it is out of the question for the Bundesliga to play. If a lack of capacity in CoVid 19 tests has been reported for weeks, the idea of screening football players for the virus at extremely high frequencies is simply absurd. Not to mention the practice of a football match with physical contact.
The talk of social responsibility and plans for exclusive test contingents (over 20,000 pieces) for professional football do not go together. We understand that club officials have legal obligations to act in the financial interests of their club. However, in a situation in which the entire society and economy face enormous challenges, it is incomprehensible to us that apparently all concerns are put aside when it comes to keeping the game going as long as possible or starting again.
Obviously, professional football has much deeper problems. A system into which sums of money beyond the imagination of many people have flowed in recent years is on the verge of collapse. The preservation of the structures is completely dependent on the flow of television funds, the clubs only exist in a total dependence on the rights holders.
The question of why, despite all the millions, there seems to be no sustainability in professional football, how the structures and clubs can be made more robust and crisis-proof in the future, has at least not been asked by any official. The only communicated goal is to get on with it as quickly as possible, which, however, only guarantees a manageable number of participants with outstanding income. In most cases, we simply regard the talk of tens of thousands of jobs as an excuse to continue securing exorbitant millions of earnings for a few extreme profiteers. This can also be seen in the absolute inactivity of the DFB, with regard to football below the 2nd Bundesliga. The fact that ghost games have much more serious consequences here than in the DFL leagues is ignored. The main thing is that the “premium product” can continue to exist. Here, the DFB not only does not fulfill its role, it also repeatedly shows whose interests it represents.
“Obviously, professional football has much deeper problems. A system into which sums of money beyond the imagination of many people have flowed in recent years is on the verge of collapse. The preservation of the structure is completely dependent on the flow of television funds, the clubs only exist in a total dependence on the rights holders.”
For years, fans have been demanding reforms for a fairer distribution of TV revenues and criticized the lack of solidarity between large and small clubs. We point out financial excesses, insufficient reserves and the sometimes blackmailing role of player advisors. We have repeatedly demonstrated the risk of dependence on individual large donors using examples such as 1860 Munich, Carl Zeiss Jena and others.
At the latest, it is high time that football officials seriously deal with these points. The current challenge is also an opportunity: associations should understand this crisis as such and fundamentally change the structures of modern football. It’s about time!
In this context we demand:
-The current DFL plan to resume the season in May in the form of ghost games must not be implemented. We do not presume to decide when the ball can roll again. However, in a situation in which football would so decouple from the rest of society, it must not happen.
-A factual examination of the current situation must be accelerated and a move away from the blind saving of TV money must be made. A possible termination of the season should not be a taboo, unless the social circumstances allow it otherwise. In this case, not only should horror scenarios in the form of impending bankruptcies be outlined, but solutions in the form of promotional loans, extended insolvency periods and other crisis instruments that the rest of the economy is facing should also be discussed.
-A future solution must be based on solidarity. There must be no crisis winners and losers among the clubs. The gap between “large” and “small” must not widen further. We expressly include the clubs of the third division and the regional leagues for which ghost games are not an option anyway.
-The discussion of fundamental reforms to make professional football more sustainable and economically crisis-proof must start now. It must not only be run by fans and journalists, but is the central task of those responsible for the clubs and associations. Structures and associations must be brought back on a financially and ideally secure basis. The 50 + 1 rule must remain unaffected.
The phase of a football world completely decoupled from the rest of society must come to an end!
Germany’s fan scenes, April 2020