Frankfurt (Germany), Sept. 9, 2020 (dpa/Naija247news) The German Football Federation (DFB) has expressed regrets that amateur clubs are at a disadvantage in the weekend’s first round of the German Cup because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Eleven lower league clubs have given up their automatic home field advantage for various mainly logistical reasons and will play in the stadiums of their professional opponents.
Teams are also allowed to let in fans again for the first time — but in very different numbers between eastern and western parts of the country.
“The Cup lives from its stories and emotions that have been inspiring fans all over Germany for many decades, especially in the first round encounters between amateurs and professionals.
“But the effects of the pandemic can also be felt in this competition,” DFB vice president Peter Frymuth said.
“Part of this special attraction is missing this season due to the partial waiver of spectators and the change of home ground.’’
But Frymuth also said: “We are happy that we can still hold the competition at all in this special situation and hope that we will soon be able to experience Cup games again under almost normal conditions.’’
When it comes to fans, Hansa Rostock lead the way as their state government of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is allowing 7,500 to attend their game against promoted Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart.
Magdeburg can play second tier Darmstadt with an attendance of 5,000, and 4,600 fans are allowed into Chemnitz’s stadium against Hoffenheim.
In the western part of the country, only 300 fans are permitted into Schalke 04’s 62,000-seat arena against fourth tier Schweinfurt.
Schweinfurt are among the clubs that gave up their home field advantage which is given automatically to lower league teams —- with swaps possible this season owing to the exceptional circumstances.
A concept for the whole country is not expected until October, and the main reasons for the vastly differing attendance figures lies in the COVID-19 infection numbers in the respective states.
“We have by far the fewest number of infections,” Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Sports Minister Stefanie Drese said on Tuesday in reference to the large number of fans allowed into the Rostock stadium.
“It is a good, brave and very positive start for sports,” she said, adding that the club had presented an “excellent’’ hygiene concept.
State prime minister Manuela Schwesig had earlier dimissed calls from Bavaria and other western states for a joint policy.
Schwesig said they would have also opened their stadiums if their infection rates had been low and those in the eastern states high.
But it is not only the state regulations that dictate the number of fans, local health authorities also have a say.
Mainz for instance would have only had 350 fans for their cup game against Havelse —- who also gave up their home field advantage —- based on Rhineland-Palatinate rules.
But the city’s health officials are allowing 1,000 in.
Mainz are meanwhile also a prime example of how fragile the pandemic situation still is.
Two players tested positive for the COVID-19 virus last week and went into quarantine amid uncertainty whether the team could prepare at all for the game.
Team training eventually only resumed on Tuesday.