BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s Football Association (DFB) on Wednesday was left shaking its head and offered more questions than answers on the future of the country’s national sport, with a quarter of a million of jobs on the line due to the coronavirus.
The virus forced the complete suspension of matches in the country on March 16 and until April 2 at least, putting the entire season and national team matches in doubt.
The Bundesliga has been in strong financial health for more than a decade, with top-division clubs generating over 4 billion euros (3.68 billion pounds) in revenue for the first time according to its annual report last month, the 15th straight year of growth.
But the virus has sparked a financial crisis for the DFB, president Fritz Keller told a news conference with 20 invited reporters connected remotely, with 250,000 jobs under threat.
“At the moment there are few solutions. The only way is to persevere and to get through this safely together,” Keller said. “This is also a financial crisis with football employing around 250,000 people. We are trying to protect these jobs.
“Apart from smaller clubs there are also Bundesliga clubs that are under threat now.” He did not provide any details.
Apart from the Bundesliga and other major European leagues, all international matches and competitions including Euro 2020 have either been scrapped or postponed, wreaking further havoc with the international sports calendar.
“We will see how we solve the problems but we do not know when the league will start and in what form and shape it will resume,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said. “We just don’t know when football will start again.”
“We are in a crisis. All people have to show solidarity, we have to be careful and make sacrifices,” Loew added.
“A lot of jobs in football depend on this. We hope and would be happy if football could start as soon as possible in order to safeguard these jobs.”
A resumption of the league any time soon is unlikely with the coronavirus epicentre now in Europe. It has so far killed more than 8,200 people and infected over 200,000, globally.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ken Ferris