Bundesliga not a blueprint for every country, says marketing head

The death rate not being too high in Germany helped Bundesliga stage a return amid the COVID-19 pandemic, says Peer Naubert, the marketing head of the league.

Cologne players at the stands during the German Bundesliga soccer match against RB Leipzig.   -  AP

 

World sport is slowly trying to spring back to life, following the Bundesliga football league in Germany. Even though it was the first major sports event to get back on field amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Bundesliga may not be able to provide a blueprint for the rest of the world because of the different situation and rules in different parts.

"Germany was hit hard by the coronavirus, but the death rate was not very high. We tried to bring football back ,and get back to normal general life," said Peer Naubert, Head of Marketing at Bundesliga, in an interaction about the 'New Normal in Sports'  by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

"The measures by the German government were right, and the national health system was strong. Everyone played their part in the restart, and we are going match by match. It is still a fragile situation," conceded Naubert.

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Mentioning the details about getting various aspects right, on the organisational front, and overcoming a few hiccups, Naubert said that Bundesliga would be happy to share expertise and knowledge, but clarified that the "blue print can’t be copied’’ owing to varying situations in different countries.

Naubert emphasised that it was important for the players to stick to the rules, and stay healthy, while being happy to be back on the pitch.

Dealing with athletes

The CEO of JSW Sports, Mustafa Ghouse said that it was important to be in constant touch with the athletes and calm them down. "The athletes have pent up energy. We have to ensure that they don’t over exert on return. Since, there are not too many high level competition till the end of the year, we can plan slowly increasing their training load," he said.

With so many football leagues reviving around the world, Ghouse said that there would be enough examples for the ISL to follow, when it starts by October.

Touching on the economic situation, IOA president Narinder Batra said that cricket and football left only 5 to 7 per cent of the sponsorship money to be shared among 58 disciplines, and that the government had assured support for main sports till the Commonwealth and Asian Games in 2022.

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On the grounds of technology, amplifying the game experience for the television viewers, Naubert said that the producers introduced crowd noise from previous games and that was received positively by the Bundesliga fans.

"We are providing a new level of statistics for our fans to take their experience to the next level," Naubert said.

The Executive Vice President, Star Sports and the chair of FICCI Sports, Sanjog Gupta viewed the reality of playing inside an empty stadium, as the best opportunity to engage fans. "The wall between the fans at the stadium and the viewers on TV doesn’t exist now. I don’t look at it as a closed stadium. It is most open. Everyone has the same access."

The CEO of Knight Riders Sports, Venky Mysore was thrilled to view the LED Walls introduced in Amsterdam Soccer to get the virtual presence of fans inside the stadium. "With the virtual presence of fans, real noise is possible," Venky said.

Making a presentation, Vishal Kumar Dev, the Commissioner of sports in the Odisha, assured that the government would continue to back sports despite the challenges. "Safe operating protocols are easy to make, but difficult to implement. Hugging or celebrating is very important in sports. Asking the players not to do it is hard," said Dev.

He also said that if a stadium had a capacity of 50,000, at least attempts should be made to allow about 20,000 spectators.

The Odisha sports has a healthy formula of creating infrastructure through the government resources, funding the centres through private partners and putting an eminent sports person to manage the operations.

In conclusion, Sanjog said, ‘’government giving sports the importance it deserves, is the best sign of recovery. Now, sports need to change for the world."

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