By Oliver Trust
BERLIN, May 17 (Xinhua) -- Universal applause by media and fans couldn't have been louder after Germany successfully launched its newest export hit: Football behind closed doors.
TV stations in over 160 countries and regions witnessed the restart project of the first major European league to reopen. At the same time, other significant sports events remain under lockdown due to the coronavirus crisis.
The first time in football history, British TV broadcasted all games of the German Bundesliga live. Newspapers provided details about clubs to allow fans to select their favorite side; they can follow as long as the Premier League is interrupted.
Fredi Bobic reports about a stressful weekend as his mobile didn't stand silent for long. The Eintracht Frankfurt sports director called the return to action "a historic day" after the national campaign had come to hold by mid-March.
"I can't tell you how many called," the former German international commented. He spoke of heaps of people from different sports trying to investigate the hygiene concept set up by the German league association.
The successful premiere has increased the number of curious copyists as the first and second-tier managed to run their concept without shortcomings.
Getting the approval of politics and health authorities "was one thing," Bobic added. To see it is working, came near a litmus test the former striker stressed.
The exemplary function can't be overrated, Bobic said. Football might be different from what supporters were used to, "but it allows things to go on under certain circumstances."
Stars of the international football business praised the efforts. "They announced it, they did it, thank you," said Sweden's superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Former French international Bixente Lizarazu praised the determination of German football. "It worked; everyone could see that. They didn't hesitate," the former Bayern Munich left-back said.
While critics complained about a disturbing silence coming along with so-called ghost-games German fans made the best of it. Hundreds of thousands stayed home to watch TV.
Organizers and security forces expressed their relief after the feared gatherings of supporters did not take place. Fans instead posted thousands of pictures showing them cheering at home.
It might have been an empathic move to say thank you as the squad of Borussia Dortmund made the wave in front of the empty south stands, regularly hosting 25000 ultra-fans of the Blacks and Yellows.
Sport's history books might not report about a smashing atmosphere but an unusual kind of football.
With no supporters' chants in their ear's players reacted with much fewer emotions to the referee's decisions. No pack forming happened, and less yellow and red cards were shown.
"The 90 minutes playing time feel much longer without fans," Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer reported. The 2014 World Champion said football has much more turned to a mental issue.
Despite the excellent performance, football's new explorers announced to tighten their strict concept. Due to the rules, players are advised to keep social distancing after scoring goals. Hertha BSC performers seem to have forgotten about the demand as they were hugging each other after every one of their three goals in Hoffenheim.
Improvement is promised as the Bundesliga wants to avoid sending out the wrong signals. "This weekend was the first step. We need to be aware there are eight more to come. All eyes are still on football," Neuer said. Enditem