Reports out of Germany indicate the Bundesliga will resume play in ten days, albeit with no fans in the stands.
Here in the U.S., MLS and the NWSL are both working on a different timeline than the European leagues, because of the calendar-year schedule. MLS was only two matches into the season when the COVID-19 shutdown began, and the NWSL had only just begun training camp. So, both leagues have a little more time to decide what to do next.
When the U.S. leagues do return, there’s a chance they could follow the Bundesliga’s lead and play with empty stadiums. But, at some point, we’ll need to get fans back in the stands. How would that work? What would it take for you to go sit in a stadium again?
The Chicago Fire, Chicago Red Stars, and U.S. Soccer have all put out surveys recently with similar questions, asking fans what measures would need to be in place, and how much risk they’d be willing to accept to attend a match.
If politicians scale back restrictions, would you attend right away? Would you need to be sure everyone had their temperature checked? Would you want everyone wearing masks? Would you want teams to cap the number of tickets so groups could all sit six feet apart? Would you demand that everyone allowed in had tested negative for COVID-19?
In other words, when we do get back to normal, what should that look like?
I honestly don’t know. While watching the Bundesliga on TV will be fun for now, and it’s surely better than nothing, I’m not sure how long soccer in empty stadiums will hold my interest. After all, fans are the soul of this sport. If Section 8 or Local 134 can’t pack themselves into a section and go crazy, what’s the point?
I tend to think when the gates open again, I’ll be back. Maybe I won’t bring the kids along at first, and maybe I’ll avoid high-fives after goals, but I’d probably be willing to accept a small amount of risk in exchange for live soccer.
Luckily, we’re all one day closer to that day coming, whenever it may be. Hopefully the decision will be a lot clearer by then.