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Football is a populist pandemic punching bag

15 0 11

Last Saturday, Cologne beat local rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach 4-1 in the Bundesliga.

It was Cologne's biggest derby win since 1996, but the reaction to the game was dominated by public outrage at the decision to allow 50,000 people to attend the game amid rising COVID-19 rates in Germany.

"We can't have images like that again," said Hendrik Wüst, the state premier of North Rhine Westphalia (NRW), where Cologne is located. "It's not a good signal," commented Bavarian state premier Markus Söder.

Among the new measures announced on Wednesday to combat the fourth wave, Bundesliga clubs will now have to reduce their capacities to between 30-50% up to a maximum of 15,000. In areas with particularly high rates, such as Saxony and Bavaria, matches will take place completely behind closed doors, costing clubs in those regions millions per matchday in ticket sales. Especially further down the Bundesliga and in Bundesliga 2, these are significant losses.

Yet, according to the city of Cologne, there are, as of yet, no new COVID-19 cases with any connection to the derby. Rather, coronavirus outbreaks have been traced to indoor events such as private parties, club nights, a basketball match an elderly care home.

That's no surprise. The derby between Cologne and Gladbach, like most Bundesliga matches, took place under "2G" conditions, meaning that the 50,000 attendees were all vaccinated or recovered.

It took place in the open air and, just like at previous Cologne games, which this reporter has attended personally, the relevant documentation was strictly checked at checkpoints outside the stadium — stricter than any other areas of life.

But now, football clubs and football fans are being punished again because full stadiums "send the wrong signal." It's a purely symbolic and populist argument.

On the contrary, full football stadiums are absolutely the right signal, a signal to those who still refuse to get vaccinated that doing so enables a return to normality.

DW's Matt Ford

It's no coincidence that the federal states with the highest........

© Deutsche Welle

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