Large-scale public events in Germany will be banned until at least Aug. 31, but some soccer fans there still plan to gather en masse to support their team. Yes, those fans will be made out of cardboard, but paper people don’t have to abide by the same social-distancing requirements as their flesh and blood counterparts.
As part of a “Stay at home. Be in the stands” campaign by German pro soccer league team Borussia Moenchengladbach, fans have purchased cardboard cutouts printed with their likenesses to be displayed in the stands at west German stadium Borussia Park. These “pappkameraden” cost 19 euros (about $20.80, £16.50 AU$ 31.90) and will spare TV viewers and professional players the dispiriting sight of empty stadium seats when Germany’s pro soccer league, the Bundesliga, returns.
When that resumption will happen, exactly, is unclear. The league was originally expected back on May 9, though not to the usual cheering crowds. On Thursday, the German government delayed a decision on the return until next week.
As the coronavirus pandemic cancels or postpones major sporting events around the world, the Bundesliga has been suspended since March 13. It still has nine match days left to complete the season.
Bundesliga teams continue to train in small groups but have yet to resume full team training, and the league has started testing players from the first and second divisions for COVID-19. The league has said no more than 330 people can assemble at a stadium for matches, CNET sister site CBS Sports reports, while Simon Rolfes, sporting director of the team Bayer Leverkusen, said most of those would be security personnel to prevent fans from gathering.
Borussia Moenchengladbach currently ranks fourth in Bundesliga standings. Orders for its cardboard cutout fans have exceeded 8,000, the team says, with more than 2,000 already placed in the Borussia Park stands.
Germany isn’t the only country where sports events have proceeded without (living, breathing) fans in attendance. In Taiwan, cardboard cutouts of fans have attended Chinese Professional Baseball League games. Some carry signs in support of their teams, while others point their cardboard cameras at the field. They cannot, however, be seen doing the wave.
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