Salem Radio Network News Friday, January 21, 2022

Sports

Soccer-Bayern matches should be played without fans – Bavarian premier

BERLIN (Reuters) – Bavarian soccer teams including Bayern Munich could be forced to play in empty stadiums again, after the German region’s premier Markus Soeder called for matches to go ahead without fans due to the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Soeder said he hoped that in a meeting he is attending on Tuesday, German federal and regional officials would agree to stop fans from attending matches nationwide, but if that was not the consensus, Bavaria would go it alone and implement the step.

The move would affect the high-profile group-stage meeting between Bayern and Spanish giants Barcelona in the Champions League on Dec. 8, followed by their Bundesliga clash with Mainz three days later.

Bayern are away at Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.

Fellow Bavarian clubs like Augsburg and Greuther Fuerth would also be affected by a decision to keep fans away.

“Football matches should be without spectators again. Bavaria will do that,” Soeder said on Twitter, adding that allowing fans in stadiums is too dangerous at the moment as it encourages people to travel.

“Football has a great role model function. We must now reduce contacts everywhere.”

Clubs in Germany played in empty stadiums last year when play resumed following a shutdown due to the pandemic.

Bavaria, one Germany’s hardest hit regions in the new wave of the coronavirus, last week introduced a rule that soccer stadiums – including the home of Bayern Munich – could only allow 25% capacity at matches.

Stadiums were only allowed to admit people who are vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19, and only if they could show a negative test.

Germany reported 45,753 new infections on Tuesday while another 388 deaths were recorded – the highest daily figure since early March which brought the overall death toll to 101,344.

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson, additional reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, Editing by Ed Osmond)

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