Bundesliga given go-ahead to resume this month

Germany will become the first major European league to resume its 2019/20 season

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The Bundesliga has been cleared to resume without fans on this month after German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives government approval to ease restrictions.

May 15 had been cited by several news outlets as the date in which football could return, although German Football League (DFL) officials will meet later Wednesday to confirm exact dates.

It means Germany will become the first major European league to resume its 2019/20 season, which was postponed in early March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

All matches will be played behind closed doors.

Politicians believe resuming matches in the first and second divisions to "limit the economic damage" for the 36 clubs is "acceptable", according to a draft government agreement.

The document said: "Restarting match activity must be preceded by a two-week quarantine, where appropriate in the form of a training camp."

Players in the top two divisions in Germany, where the coronavirus crisis has been contained far more effectively than in most western European nations, have been in training since early April, subject to strict protocols limiting contact and the numbers involved in each session.

The announcement comes a day after the DFL confirmed 10 cases from 1,724 coronavirus tests carried out on players in Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2. Three of those cases are known to have come from Cologne and two from rivals top-flight club Borussia Monchengladbach.

Health Minister Jens Spahn has argued that the testing regime "makes sense and can serve as an example for other forms of professional sport," although he warned "it has to be lived up to".

Hertha Berlin on Monday suspended Ivory Coast forward Salomon Kalou for broadcasting a livestream showing social distancing measures being flouted at the club.

With nine games remaining, defending champions Bayern Munich are top of the table, four points above Borussia Dortmund.