This weekend will see the restart of professional football in one of Europe’s leading leagues.
On Saturday afternoon no fewer than six Bundesliga games will be played in stadia devoid of spectators by players who have tested negative for coronavirus. They will kick, head and the case of the goalkeepers also handle a disinfected ball, and for those on the bench, like their coaches and medical staff, be required to maintain social distancing.
The return of live football is certainly a controversial move, given that the pandemic is far from over. There is nevertheless a huge financial incentive to finish off the 2019/20 season, with even governments such as the UK’s now saying it is “opening the door” for the return of professional football in June.
While televised football effectively played behind closed doors is a turn off for the vast majority of fans, it is nevertheless expected to attract strong interest across Europe. In the UK, BT Sport has already committed to showing every Bundesliga game live this weekend, and all remaining games of the season, with at least one each weekend in 4K Ultra HD.
Meanwhile, in Central and Eastern Europe this weekend’s Bundesliga games will be shown live on Poland’s Cyfrowy Polsat-owned Eleven Sports, with a selected few being offered by Canal+ Sport. Elsewhere, Telly (the former Digi CZ) in the Czech Republic and Sport tv in the Hungary are among a host of other regional broadcasters also showing their subscribers Bundesliga football from Saturday.
The key questions that will now be asked are when will football resume throughout Europe and how long will this sanitised version of the sport last? The TV industry will need to know the answers sooner rather than later as it has already invested billions in broadcasting rights for the next few seasons.
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