No fans, masks, social distancing: Bundesliga begins after nearly two months

Germany gave football-starved fans reason to be cheerful on Saturday with the Bundesliga's return to action behind closed doors, on a day in which Borussia Dortmund hammered local rivals Schalke in an echoing Signal Iduna Park. But there were certain steps taken by the players and the organizers to maintain social distancing. 

 

Clean balls, please

The decision to allow German football to restart came with a host of government regulations, including the masks on the bench and plexiglass separating players and journalists for post-match interviews.

One of the rules states that match balls need to be regularly disinfected by personnel wearing gloves, as the German Football League attempts to limit the spread of the virus and finish the 2019-20 season.

(Photograph:AFP)

Masked men line the dugout

As well as the unusual sight of normally packed stands shorn of the boisterous support that accompanies the Bundesliga, fans watching on TV saw players wearing masks on the sidelines.

Players on the bench wore protective masks in compliance with the stringent safety guidelines implemented to allow the Bundesliga to resume before Europe's other top leagues.

(Photograph:AFP)

Five substitutions in a game

The increase in subs, approved by the game's lawmakers earlier this month, was adopted by the Bundesliga to limit the risk of injury following two months without matches.

(Photograph:AFP)

Socially distanced celebration

Wonderkid striker Erling Braut Haaland began where he left off with the first Bundesliga goal of its restart after a two-month break caused by the coronavirus.

Haaland turned home Thorgan Hazard's low cross just before the half hour to open the scoring against Schalke. It was the 19-year-old's 10th goal in just nine Bundesliga appearances and set his team on their way to a thumping 4-0 derby victory.

Instead of being mobbed by jubilant teammates, Haaland made sure that they all kept their distance as he bobbed a cheeky little dance on the sidelines, in homage to the strict hygiene rules that the league has to follow.

(Photograph:AFP)

Dortmund salute empty wall

A resounding victory over Schalke would usually see Dortmund's players celebrating in front of a throbbing 'Yellow Wall', the massive terrace behind the goal at Signal Iduna Park that holds up to 25,000 passionate fans.

However, with the stadium all-but-empty and the only noise being the cheers and clapping of players and coaches, Dortmund still jogged over to applaud the 'Sudtribune' in honour of the fervent support that usually pours from the stand.

(Photograph:AFP)