Ghost games: is this football?

After a break of more than two months Germany's Bundesliga is resuming play - the first top football league to do so in Europe. But football as we know it is not yet an option: the stands are empty, interviews are conducted at a distance and hugs and high-fives are forbidden. Fan organisations are criticising the spectatorless 'ghost games' and sports commentators also seem to be divided on the issue.

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HuffPost Italia (IT) /

A goal without the hugs is not a real goal

The ball is rolling again, but it takes more than that to make a football match, HuffPost Italia sighs:

“Football is back, at least in Germany with the Bundesliga. … But the feeling of 'emptiness' remains, together with the question: does all this still have any meaning? As with many other things, we must probably just get used to the many changes in these times of a pandemic. But the nostalgia remains, a longing for the people's football, the stands, the colours. That was the football of stories, voices on the radio, crowded stadiums. Of the imagination. Of wonder. Modern football consists of unapproachable stars and now, for reasons that can't be avoided, of 'absences'. A goal without the hugs is no longer a goal.”

Die Welt (DE) /

Game as magical as ever

Die Welt is delighted about the new start:

“It's certainly a pity that classics like the duel between the two Ruhr district clubs Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04, or Friday's match between Berlin's two clubs Hertha and Union, are being held in empty stadiums. Of course we all miss the classic stadium atmosphere at these ghost games, the oohing and aahing and the cheers of the tens of thousands. But even in front of empty stands there are thrilling duels, brilliant moves, fantastic goals and real emotions - all the magic of a sport that brings people together from all over the world.”

Sme (SK) /

The pitch is no different to an assembly line

Sme is concerned about the reasons why Bundesliga's games are being resumed:

“Germany has started an avalanche. Other countries will follow. As for the footballers themselves, almost 100 percent of them welcome the new beginning. ... In addition, football is their livelihood. As Mönchengladbach's director of sport, Max Eberl, put it: 'Corona or no corona - the show must go on.' And he rebuffed the ensuing criticism, saying that the football pitch is just like the assembly line at VW, Lufthansa's planes or a job at a hairdresser's salon. Not just the fate of the players was at stake but also an industry with 55,000 jobs that need to be saved, he stressed.”

Le Temps (CH) /

Sport putting us in touch with tomorrow's reality

Le Temps hopes football will serve as a role model and innovator:

“As an activity that is closely bound up with tradition, routine and communication, the ghost games help us to understand our new social norms. The substitutes who sit far apart on the bench show us what we'll be doing tomorrow on the train. No more hugs. ... Football has resumed in truncated form, just like the restaurants that have opened without the conviviality. They provide the material but not the mood. Sport in the times of Covid-19 reflects tomorrow's reality. The football leagues and clubs will tinker with contactless tickets, ways of controlling the throngs, new business relationships, novel reception forms, and new technologies that will be as useful to us as GPS and ABS are today.”