Jörg Wolfrum, editor of the centuries-old German magazine revista Kicker ’:“ There are many people in the country who do not

Jörg Wolfrum, a journalist for the German magazine Kicker, spoke exclusively with Infobae about the return of the Bundesliga.
Jörg Wolfrum, a journalist for the German magazine Kicker, spoke exclusively with Infobae about the return of the Bundesliga.

- The Bundesliga is the first European league to return after the Coronavirus pandemic. Do you think he is back in the right time or that more time was needed for the teams to adapt after so long without playing?

- In times of coronavirus, there is never a fair time. Furthermore, as Germany is a federative country, some teams have more training time than others because the federal governments granted different permits to return to training, which, in all cases, take place under special circumstances, such as not having physical contact, etc.

- Shouldn't they have had more time for a preseason or played some friendly matches before as part of the preparation for the tournament?

- Of course it is, but it is impossible in these times. There is no need to think and discuss impossible matters. But yes, the situation is difficult. The workouts are not from normal times.

- How serious is the German press about this end of the Bundesliga season? What is the media saying about this? Do they give the same importance to the champion as in any other season?

- He takes it with the same seriousness as always: football returns, the championship is played, the declines, the positions in international competitions. In addition, the economic is important for all parties and even for the press, if one refers to advertisements, for example. He takes everything seriously, of course he does.

- Can you feel a growing expectation of people for the return of football, or are people looking for other things in this strange time?

- There is everything, and that includes discussions about why soccer did get the right to return while other businesses are still closed. So there are not a few people who think that it is a wrong sign that football starts. But it was a debate a few weeks ago, now everything returned to a much-mentioned "new normal", that is, hairdressers were opened, restaurants are going to open (although gradually and first only with seats on the terraces. With few tables, and not inside), so soccer no longer represents such an exception. Anyway, many criticize it but the fans appreciate it, yes.

Bundesliga matches will be played behind closed doors (REUTERS)
Bundesliga matches will be played behind closed doors (REUTERS)

- The Bundesliga is the European league with the highest average ticket sales per game. How did the public take the fact of playing behind closed doors or with inflated cardboard in the stands?

- Weeks ago that generated controversy. The cross was made for those "Phantom Parties" (here it is called thus the parties without public) in the fans. But it happened on the same day that Bundesliga (DFL) CEO Christian Seifert clearly said that without games there is no money from television and without such money, several clubs will go bankrupt in a few months.

- Is there an awareness that since there are no other important leagues at stake, the Bundesliga will surely be watched like never before on TV or streaming in the rest of the planet or is this not interesting and is not commented on in the media?

- It is well known, the German Federation (DFB) and the clubs too, that the Bundesliga is at the forefront in this regard. It should be noted that from abroad there was a lot of interest from other leagues in the concept of hygiene / distance, of the protocol used for the restart of the tournament. If it goes wrong, because the hygiene conditions were not respected, that will mean a serious blow beyond the money that would be lost from the contribution of the TV if the League were suspended.

- Do you think that there will be a massive increase in spectators of the matches from your homes?

- There may be, but not much, since those who are interested in pay television ("Sky TV", above all, because it has the rights) already have it and the others can see summaries on other channels as before. Of course: "Sky tv" will broadcast the first two dates on its free channel and that will be accessible to everyone.

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- Do the leaders of the German clubs talk about how much mass dissemination can be a window for players to migrate to other leagues?

- This especially, no. But there is already talk that the transfer market is going to shrink since clubs all over the world suffer economically. So this especially is not an aspect that bothers the League. What is most talked about is if in the end - for whatever reason - the Bundesliga does not end. Then, according to the DFB plan, the standings of that moment would be taken into account and the first would be champion and the last two would descend. Against this idea are not only the clubs at the end of the table. There was a vote and this plan was hardly imposed 10 to 8.

Bundesliga players will have to follow a strict hygiene protocol (REUTERS)
Bundesliga players will have to follow a strict hygiene protocol (REUTERS)

- Was there any change in the televising of the matches taking into account the previous stage of this same season? Will more close-ups be taken, or can the protagonists shout be heard, considering that there will be almost no audience? What will the protocol of the teams be like before going out on the court? What will be the concentrations, the warm-ups before, the dressing room before, at the break and after the games?

- Well detailed. Starting because the same team, on arrival at the court, is already divided into several buses so as not to get together, or by using several rooms as changing rooms for the same team to be as far away from each other as possible. Players cannot walk together, the two teams enter the field separately so as not to get together in the tunnel. For example, in a Bundesliga match in a stadium like Borussia Möchengladbach, there will be 115 people on the rostrum and only ten journalists, two firefighters, five members of the hygiene staff, four policemen, ten members of the security staff, and on the pitch There will be 97 people including the players, four referees, four ball rangers, three photographers etc.


- Will there be coronavirus tests for all the protagonists of the party? (players, referees, coaches, substitutes, journalists).

- There will be, without a doubt, and the last ones will be held the day before the match.

- Are the players all sure to play again? Were there no complaints or fears in them about the chance of becoming infected?

- There were, also from parts of players and from different clubs, but it is the minority. Some players contend that the League did not listen to them sufficiently in the decision making phase. That you have to see the psychological part of playing and being able to catch it and then being able to infect your relatives. Several players have doubts, of course.

- From psychology do they go out to play 100% sure of doing it? Because in almost all the world, the players do not want to return because they say they are afraid of getting it. No one complained?

- As I already told you, there were comments. No one is obliged to play if, for example, they are afraid of catching it.

- Since there can be almost no spectators on the courts, how do the clubs maintain themselves economically? How do you keep paying the footballers?

- To be exact: There will not be a spectator. Much of the money comes from TV and then from the sponsors and far back, from ticket sales, always referring to the First and Second divisions, so this, in these leagues, is not the problem. Although the clubs ask that their fans give him the money already paid for the tickets for the remaining matches at home. In other words, not having to return them. But it is very little compared to the money on television.

- It is said that there will be zones created on the playing field to avoid contagion. Which will be? What concrete measures were taken to avoid contagion of players?

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- There are no these areas. They will be "normal" matches in that sense. It is mandatory not to shake hands between the teams before the game, neither the coaches, nor the referees. And another: players should not celebrate goals in a typical way with hugs. It will be seen whether this is true or not. But I would say yes because it should not be forgotten that there will be no emotion from the stands with which the players can catch it.

The teams in Germany returned to training over a month ago (REUTERS)
The teams in Germany returned to training over a month ago (REUTERS)

- There were 10 positive cases among the 1724 among the tests that were done on the players of the 36 German First and Second teams. Didn't this change interest in the return of football?

- There were more, several more, these figures are already ten days or more ago. Dynamo Dresden, Second, has been in quarantine for a few days, and with that the first two dates will be lost for sure.

- The Bundesliga was going to start earlier but finally Angela Merkel refused and postponed it for a few weeks. What made her change her position now?

- It's not so much Merkel. There is a Government with specific areas in this case. as the Ministry of the Interior and also the Ministry of Health. Apart from this, as I said before, Germany is a federative country, and state governments have a lot to do with it. But in short, if the federal government gave the go-ahead for several reasons: due to a gradual opening of the Lockdown, due to pressure from the federal governments, and due to the presentation of the DFL's concept of hygiene, etc.

- What happens if a player tests positive?

- Then they have to decide the Federal Health Centers, especially the Center of the city where the club is. These Centers decide if only the player has to go to quarantine, or if the whole team. In Dresden, the Health Center decided that the whole team. That is why Dynamo cannot play the first two dates.

- If there are several positive cases in the matches. Are there chances that everything will go back and the Bundesliga will be suspended again?

- This danger exists, and if the Bundesliga is suspended, then there will be a big problem for several clubs to survive. But there is also another danger: that fans gather outside the stadiums. It must be remembered that due to the Coronavirus it is prohibited to gather in groups. You can only meet with one person outside your family or with a maximum of five outsiders in the family, depending on each State (Province). So this would be another way the Bundesliga could be suspended.

- Only 10 journalists will be allowed on the courts. What will the coverage of Kicker be like? Will there be changes from previous coverages?

One of these ten journalists on each court will be a "Kicker" reporter. As always, we are going to qualify the judges, at the match level, the referees, everything as always, although it will also be new for a magazine that in six weeks is one hundred years old and is undoubtedly the most traditional soccer magazine from Germany. But it should not be confused: of the chains that have bought the television rights of the parties (Sky, DAZN, ARD, etc.) there will be 23 more journalists in the press box. In other words, 33 journalists in total.


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