Misha Boyko / Staff reporter
The media and Bundesliga want to convince everyone that starting the season immediately is better than waiting for a normal return after the virus slows down. They are pushing this idea because playing the rest of the games will make enough profit to keep all the teams afloat, it will save the whole league financially, and both parties need to keep finances up. Their ideas lean towards the economic and business side for those reasons, and they are not mentioning the health risks that could affect the country and league further. But is it the right choice?
The New York Times article on the return of German football talked about how well Germany was dealing with the outbreak compared to other countries. Even though it is exemplary that they were doing better than South Korea, that did not stop them from reaching over 100,000 cases within the country.
The author mentioned ways of how Christian Seifert, CEO of Bundesliga, would manage to keep the games running while protecting the staff and players from being infected. First, it was said that all games would be played behind closed doors meaning that the entire stadium will be empty, with no fans or any unnecessary personnel in the vicinity.
Second, they plan on continuously testing all players and staff. The article stated that the league did not want to add to the burden of healthcare workers and said that supplies needed for medical staff are not to be used for football. “It won’t be the case that one doctor or one nurse that is really relevant for the system cannot be tested because football players have to be tested,” Seifert added in a statement. (Panja, 2020), New York Times.
The article provided multiple great points about the benefits of finishing the season behind closed doors from an economic perspective. Bundesliga would get their payments from sponsors and TV, and on the other hand TV would get their money from a high amount of viewership. But what this article seemed to miss out on was the ethical and health safety of everyone.
Of course, there is no perfect solution to any of this, and risks must be taken, but there was almost no mention of what would happen if there was an outbreak within the league or if maybe ending the season now and restarting with the next could be safer. They even mentioned that they had people prepared to handle an outbreak that may occur through the players but did not go into further depth of the topic. The article did not want to question the league’s ideas and even favoured them.
Also, the financial factor to this is huge, the Financial Times wrote that if the season was to be canceled all together the first and second division could lose a potential of 750 million euros. As a result of this, one-third of the teams in these leagues could crumble and never financially recover.
Many of the smaller clubs that would lose most of the money, do not have owners that could easily inject more finances, so any in-demand player that the club has would likely be sold to keep the club afloat. This could mean that many ‘star’ players in the Bundesliga could make an exit. The larger clubs would likely be able to hold on to their players but may have more trouble signing anyone new. There is always the exception of one or two clubs that have financial power like none other: Bayern München, BVB Dortmund, etc.
Realistically losing all that money, would likely put the smaller clubs even further behind the Bundesliga giants, making the league less competitive and unentertaining to watch for the mainstream. Bayern has been the champions for the last seven consecutive years, and it was only now just looking like another club was going to take the title. The point is that the Bundesliga would turn into a league like the French league (Ligue 1), where the same club wins everything every single year without question. People would lose interest in the Bundesliga, and sports media would lose a lot of viewers, especially German sports media. The sports channels also make a lot of their money broadcasting these games and events, meaning that they rely heavily on games to be played.
Even if the season were to start there is still a potential of losing up to 160 million euros. This, of course, is not nearly as much as losing ¾ of a billion euros, the health risk still exists.
The media is a huge influence among people and could shift opinions very easily. The New York Times supported the financial side heavily, as its target audience are not only average people but as well people that work in investment and are always surrounded by the economy. Sometimes they have readers that can have a huge say in financial decisions that can be made around the world. Even if this isn’t true the public opinion can be very powerful, and some articles like this one can make the German league decide to resume the league.
The Financial Times is another similar article that very much likes to support the side that will make more money, it has a very similar audience as the New York Times and can be appealing to people of business that have a say in these large decisions.
The Star has a more football fan-oriented audience and very often posts about news related to European football. Most fans nowadays are desperate to be able to watch games again, and so the influence of the fans may have pushed the article to lean towards resuming the league as well.
As of April 23, 2020, The Bundesliga is set and ready to resume the season on May 9. They are waiting for the approval of German politicians. In the meantime, most Bundesliga clubs have already started training, preparing for football to arrive.