Bayern Munich and Germany’s Bundesliga are in the midst of a crisis. The German Football Association has been left embarrassed by Bayern captain Jérôme Boateng, who tested positive for the coronavirus, putting him out of action for several weeks with an infectious virus which can cause pneumonia.
Derek Rae, ESPN’s main Bundesliga pundit, discusses why it’s hard to adequately discuss league problems without mentioning the COVID-19 epidemic, which is affecting ordinary German life.
I understand that COVID-19 isn’t something that every Bundesliga fan wants to hear about, but it is clearly influencing the course of the season for both players and spectators. You can’t fully watch German football right now without realizing that the infection off the field is at the heart of almost every story. The confirmation of positive tests for Bayern Munich’s unvaccinated players, Joshua Kimmich and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, on Wednesday further added fuel to the fire.
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Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann is sick of hearing the term “corona,” as Germans call it, and it’s easy to see why. The manager just recovered from COVID-19, but in the meanwhile had to make do with a makeshift tactics office in his kitchen while training sessions and games continued on without him being able to attend in person.
Bayern has suffered the full weight of COVID-19 since the coach’s return to his office and technical area, as the fourth wave has dominated news networks at all times. There is no way to avoid it as the federal and state governments implement policies aimed at halting the spread. The RKI, which is approximately equal to the CDC in the United States, has encouraged all German citizens to limit their interactions and consider if they absolutely need to attend a meeting.
Bayern Munich defenders Niklas Sule and Josip Stanisic recently tested positive for the drug, igniting a larger debate regarding gatherings.
The coronavirus was the topic of discussion during Nagelsmann’s press conference before of what turned out to be a humiliating 2-1 loss away to lowly Augsburg. The majority of this was due to laws that required unvaccinated players to be quarantined if they came into close contact with an infected individual, regardless of whether they were positive or not.
It doesn’t assist Bayern in the least if key players are forced to miss game after game due to this. Four of the club’s players have already been impacted by these regulations, prompting reports in German media that pay docking was on the way for those who chose not to be stabbed. In this case, most German fans tend to sympathize with the clubs rather than the well-paid players.
Jamal Musiala and Serge Gnabry have now had their first vaccines, according to Kicker. While Kimmich and Choupo-Moting will hopefully be designated as “recovered” shortly after their mandatory 14-day quarantine, their lack of vaccination means they won’t be able to negative-test their way out of self-isolation early, much to their employer’s dismay.
Bans on unvaccinated players have been proposed in various parts of the nation, which might be a major issue for any team in the future. According to the DFL, 90 percent of players and staff are vaccinated, compared to 68 percent of Germany’s overall population.
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FRIDAY, NOV. 26 • Mainz vs. Stuttgart (2.20 p.m. ET) • WBA against Nottm Forest (2.50 p.m. ET) • Bilbao v Granada (2.50 p.m. ET) (2.55 p.m. ET)
Also, don’t be shocked if managers like Nagelsmann refer to “Herr Lauterbach.” Karl Lauterbach is a bespectacled and unique health expert/epidemiologist for the SPD who appears on TV on a regular basis to advise on COVID-19 issues. The subject is absolutely everywhere, and with good cause.
RB Leipzig coach Jesse Marsch and team captain Peter Gulacsi, Borussia Dortmund’s Thorgan Hazard, and VfB Stuttgart sports director Sven Mislintat are among the other high-profile people who test positive this week. As if that weren’t enough, the public prosecutor has launched an inquiry into now-former Werder Bremen coach Markus Anfang, who is accused of possessing a forged vaccination certificate.
To be clear, virologists have been sounding the alarm for a long time. For most of the summer and fall, German politicians were caught up in election excitement and didn’t want to be the bearers of bad news. The health-care system is now under pressure, and even the most popular sport can no longer be considered as having a sonderrolle (special function) or being given an extrawurst (a common turn of phrase literally meaning a special kind of sausage, but meaning special privileges.)
“Of course we’re unhappy, but the situation in society is more important than what occurs in the stadium,” Marsch remarked before his own optimistic prognosis about supporters being barred from Leipzig’s next three games.
The show will continue on while the crisis in many parts of Germany worsens, but football will not be spared.