Joachim Löw prefers to talk about football. Late Saturday night in Leipzig, however, the national coach knew that soccer would not be in the foreground despite a 3-1 victory over Ukraine. And so he patiently answered questions about Corona and the match cancellation discussed in advance.
“I can understand people’s worries and thoughts,” said Löw, commenting on the four positive test results in the Ukrainian team and the criticism that he may not have reacted appropriately. “But I am the wrong person to talk to, I am a coach. We had to be prepared for what the Uefa or the health authorities would decide. I can’t say the game is not happening.”
Leo’s right about that. But in the end, he made it too easy for himself with this statement. After all, the plan to be able to play the game was probably the top priority of the German Football Association. “We were feverish that there would be no more cases,” DFB director Oliver Bierhoff had said on ZDF before the game – and revealed a strange relationship to this pandemic. Bierhoff, who had denounced the mood around the young team with his cloud image at the beginning of the week, but had left his own role in the overall structure out of the equation.
Travel, play, live – without intensive contactsIt was a memorable day in Leipzig, which in all its absurdity renewed the divided relationship of many observers to the behaviour of those responsible for football in the Corona crisis. On Friday evening, 25 hours before kick-off, the positive test results had been announced in the Ukrainian camp. The four players and the caretaker concerned were isolated. With an incubation period of between three and five days as indicated by the RKI, further infections cannot be ruled out. No decision was made to cancel the test.
On Saturday morning, just under twelve hours before kick-off, the public health department of the city of Leipzig took care of contact tracing. The Ukrainian side assured the office staff that there had been no intensive contact between the infected players and other players in the previous 48 hours. The Ukrainian team had played in Poland last Wednesday, then travelled to Leipzig together, stayed in a hotel and prepared for the match against Germany, and around noon the City of Leipzig announced through its spokesperson that it had decided not to extend the quarantine to any other players. For safety reasons, however, a further series of tests was agreed. According to Bierhoff, the DFB received the news at 3pm, six hours before kick-off, “that the test results were all negative and that gave us confidence”. An hour and a half later, the official confirmation from Uefa followed: the game was to take place.
Uefa wants to see the competitions throughThe European Football Association plays an important role in this triangle of decision-makers. With the stipulation formulated months ago that every game under Uefa’s supervision must be played as long as twelve field players and a goalkeeper are available, the association has shown what is of the greatest importance: not the health of the players, but the fulfilment of lucrative television contracts (in the Nations League as in the Champions League).
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