Germany’s top flight football league, the Bundesliga, will be returning this weekend behind closed doors.
Bundesliga team Borussia Monchengladbach has announced it will be placing 12,000 cardboard cutouts of fans in the seats of its home ground Borussia Park, to provide the illusion of fan engagement.
The Bundesliga is the first major European league to make a cautious return to play in light of the global coronavirus pandemic. One pre-requisite of the return was the playing of matches behind closed doors, with no more than 213 people in a stadium, including players and staff.
Some countries, like France, have ruled out the return of sport this season and voided their top flight league. The Premier League has yet to announce its plans.
The cutouts come from a fan campaign called “Stay at home. Be in the stands.” Borussia fans paid €19.00 to install a cardboard version of themselves in the stadium stands, with all prceeds raised going to local charities.
Fans of opposing teams can even order a cardboard cutout to install in the ‘away’ end of Borussia Park, as these Borussia Dortmund fans did:
Gladbach fan representative Thomas Weinmann commented: “The campaign organisers are regularly overrun with orders; we can hardly keep up trying to install them all. But we’re obviously delighted with the overwhelming support it’s received.”
Gladbach players, coaches and board members had previously agreed to forgo their salaries in order to help the club and its employees. Fans can contribute to the latest campaign by uploading their photo to www.seidabei-trotzdem.de.