Fans outlawed as Germany fights virus

Only 300 fans were allowed in to Dortmund's ground last weekend. In November, there will be none.
Only 300 fans were allowed in to Dortmund's ground last weekend. In November, there will be none.

Fans will be banned from Bundesliga matches throughout November in a bid to slow Germany's soaring coronavirus infection rate.

Germany plans to close all cultural and recreational facilities, and that includes all stadiums and venues hosting professional sports events, sources at federal and state government told news agency, dpa.

The closures are part of a pre-Christmas shutdown sought by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Merkel secured the backing of Germany's 16 state premiers to also enact sweeping contact restrictions.

After the first lockdown in March the German football association (DFB) and the German football league (DFL) came up with a sophisticated hygiene concept to first resume football fixtures and finish last season, and later allow fans in the stadiums.

For the current season, the DFL received the green light from politicians to fill football stadiums up to 20 per cent of the total capacity, pending approval from local authorities considering the coronavirus infection rates in each region.

While some clubs like RB Leipzig and Union Berlin were able to welcome a few thousand fans for matches, others played in front of just a few hundred. Champions Bayern Munich had not yet opened their stadium to supporters.

Meanwhile, Rick Parry, chairman of the English Football League, which represents the clubs below Premier League level, has hit out at the British government over its treatment of the clubs during the pandemic.

He said clubs were, at best, being ignored and, at worst, victimised by the UK government during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parry made the comments in a letter to Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Describing EFL clubs as on the brink of a financial precipice, Parry said that the football-loving public would judge the Conservative government on how many teams had survived when the pandemic subsided.

"For some reason, football is being regarded as a peculiarly undeserving case and... we are at best being ignored by a government that doesn't understand our national sport and at worst being victimised by it," Parry wrote.

Other sports have been counting the financial cost of COVID-19 too, with Sunday's Formula One Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola now taking place on Sunday behind closed doors.

It is a blow for organisers as, originally, 13,147 spectators were planned for the return to Imola for the first time in 14 years as the race was added to the revamped calendar.

In European rugby league, Leeds coach Richard Agar has called for strong leadership from the Rugby Football League as the conclusion of the Super League season threatens to descend into chaos.

Two matches scheduled for Friday have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and Agar says the competition is reaching a "tipping point".

Huddersfield's clash with Castleford was called off after the Tigers reported 12 positive coronavirus cases following tests carried out on Tuesday.

The match between Salford and Warrington is also off after the Red Devils informed the authorities they only had 13 players available for selection.

In the NFL, the Houston Texans closed their practice facility on Wednesday, hours after a player tested positive for the coronavirus.

The team was notified of the positive test on Tuesday night and said the unidentified player immediately self-isolated, according to NFL protocols.

Contact tracing is being conducted and the facility is underdoing "deep cleaning," the Texans said in a statement.

Australian Associated Press