The usual noises and cheers of crowd is absent as Bundesliga soccer resumed on a quieter note on Saturday after a two-month break due to coronavirus outbreak.
There were no fans in the stadium as Borussia Dortmund hosted Schalke in a normally fierce local rivalry, reports AP.
Instead of thousands of fans chatting and drinking beer outside the stadium, there were only a few locals out for a weekend bike ride.
The song "You'll Never Walk Alone," a favourite of Dortmund fans as well as Liverpool supporters, echoed around the stadium ahead of kickoff and the starting whistle could be heard outside.
The arena has an 81,000 capacity but league rules permit just 213 people, including players, to be inside for the game, none of them supporters.
In the city centre ahead of the match, longtime Dortmund fan Marco Perz sat outside the German Football Museum in a jacket patched with club emblems. He said he hasn't missed a home game since the 1990s.
"I'd normally be on the South Stand right now, in the yellow wall," he said, referring to the vast terrace which underpins Dortmund's reputation for passionate support. Now Perz is planning to watch the game with a friend over food and a beer. "The main thing is to see the game," he added.
On the next street, face masks were on sale in Dortmund's yellow and black, with the stallholder saying they were the most popular on offer.
Local authorities had pleaded with fans not to mass outside the stadium.
On Wednesday Dortmund Mayor Ullrich Sierau said anyone who stands in front of the stadium because they want to follow the game has got it wrong.
"It's an appeal to the good sense of all fans, and I'm sure that the fans of both Schalke 04 and Borussia Dortmund are sensible people."
Dortmund fan Nicole Bartelt said she would stay away from the stadium — which she called "the temple" — in the hope of showing fans could be trusted to return sooner rather than later for games.
If fans gather, "we'll end up waiting even longer to be back," she said.
Police were spread along the road by the stadium in vans, on motorbikes and horseback. There have been clashes between fans at Dortmund-Schalke games before, but the police had little to do except remind TV crews to stand further away from each other as they filmed team buses arriving.
Dortmund's last game was in an empty stadium too, but with big crowds outside.
Thousands of Paris Saint-Germain supporters gathered outside the Parc des Princes as their team beat Dortmund in the Champions League on March 11.
Those scenes — and the decision of PSG players to sing along with the fans — showed that a game risks spreading the disease even without letting a single supporter into the arena. Similar scenes the same evening at a Bundesliga game between Borussia Mönchengladbach and Cologne caused concern.
During the following two days, the German, English, French and Spanish leagues all opted to suspend competition rather than play in empty stadiums, at least for the time being.
Barcelona will sell the title rights to its storied stadium for one year in an effort to raise money for the fight against the coronavirus.
The Spanish club's executive board said Tuesday it will donate the entire fee raised by selling the title rights to the Camp Nou to fighting the global pandemic.
The Camp Nou is the biggest stadium in Europe with more than 99,000 seats. It has never had a sponsor since it opened in 1957.
"We want to send a universal message: For the first time someone will have the opportunity to put their name on Camp Nou and the revenues will go to all of humanity, not just Barca," club vice president Jordi Cardoner told The Associated Press.
"The initiative arose in an emergency situation. We think that we have to have a very quick response, putting our crown jewel at the service (of the fight)."
The club had planned to wait to sell the stadium's title rights for the first time in the 2023-24 season. At that time, the club hopes to bring in 300 million euros ($326 million) paid up front for a 25-year contract to pay for renovations to the stadium and other facilities.
Cardoner, who has recovered after contracting the virus, said the board conceived of this new charity sale independent of the long-term deal of 25 years. But, he said that if there emerges a sponsor who wanted to include it in the long-term deal, then the club would consider it.
Cardoner said Barcelona wants to listen to offers from companies and private foundations and will consider opening it up to a group of interested sponsors who could team up and hopefully provide even more funds to help battle the new virus.
He would not give any estimate on how much the foundation hopes to earn from this "one-shot" sale. But given the greatness of Lionel Messi and the millions of spectators who tune in each week to watch Barcelona's games, Camp Nou is one of the most coveted venues in sports.
"Camp Nou is sending out an S.O.S.," Cardoner said. "We are open to everything. We want to maximize the economic participation and to ensure that the partners share our same social values."
The stadium will maintain the name "Camp Nou" in addition to including the sponsor, the club said.
Barcelona's foundation for social charities, which is overseen by Cardoner, will manage the investment of the money in fighting the virus. The foundation runs programs in Spain and in 58 other countries, largely focused on at-risk youth and refugees.
The club said it hopes to close a deal "in the coming weeks." The decision will then have to be approved by a general assembly of club members, which number 140,000, likely to be held in October, if conditions permit.
How the money is used will be determined by the club's foundation and the sponsor, with each party proposing how to distribute half of the funds, Cardoner said. Barcelona said it wants to propose using part of the money in Spain, especially in Catalonia, and in countries where the club has current charities. Cardoner said specific projects have not been chosen, but he would like some money to go to helping the elderly, especially in the devastated nursing home sector.
Cardoner said that he took some inspiration from the club's decision in 2006 to put UNICEF on its shirt, which had never carried a sponsor before. The club moved the UNICEF logo to the back of the shirt in 2011 and sold the front to a corporate sponsor. It has continued to donate 2 million euros ($2.14 million) to UNICEF annually.
The main impetus, however, hit Cardoner while he was confined to his bed waging his own fight against an infection from the virus. He never needed hospitalization and fully recovered after a couple of weeks, but he said that the experience prompted him "think big."
"I spent a long time in bed and had time to think," he said. "We do a lot through our foundation, and it occurred to me that we had to think big, think big like we did with the shirt and UNICEF."
Spain has been one of the hardest-hit countries by the COVID-19 virus, which causes respiratory failure especially in the elderly and the sick. More than 20,000 people have died in Spain, a death toll second only to the United States. The city of Barcelona and the surrounding areas in northeast Catalonia have been hotspots.
The suspension of the Spanish soccer amid the pandemic has put a large hole in the expected revenues of Barcelona, forcing its players to take a pay cut. Still, Cardoner said the club was not tempted to use the title rights revenue now to help plug the holes.
The decision comes during a rocky season for Barcelona and president Josep Bartomeu, who has weathered a mid-season coaching switch, internal tiffs between club officials and players, and the resignation of six board members. Even so, Barcelona leads the league that is now in limbo.
Liverpool legend Sir Kenny Dalglish has tested positive for COVID-19 but is showing no symptoms, his family announced on Friday.
The Dalglish family released a statement saying the 69-year-old was admitted to hospital on Wednesday for treatment of an infection and received a routine test for COVID-19.
"Unexpectedly, the test result was positive but he remains asymptomatic," the statement read. "Prior to his admission to hospital, Sir Kenny had chosen to voluntarily self-isolate for longer than the advised period together with his family."
"He looks forward to being home soon. We will provide further updates as and when it is appropriate."
Earlier on Friday, Championship side Leeds United confirmed their former player Norman Hunter is being treated in hospital after testing positive for COVID-19.
Hunter, 76, was a member of the England squad which won the 1966 FIFA World Cup.
Retired soccer star Ronaldinho was released from a high-security jail in Paraguay on Tuesday after more than a month, but was ordered to serve house arrest at a luxury hotel while he's investigated for using a false passport to enter the country.
The Brazilian entered the hotel about four hours after the ruling. He was transported in a police van and was allowed in after sanitary precautions due to the new coronavirus outbreak.
Ronaldinho, the Brazilian former FIFA player of the year, and his brother Roberto de Assis were also told to pay bail of $800,000 each.
Ronaldinho, who helped lead Brazil to the 2002 World Cup title, was jailed on March 6 after entering the small South American country with a false Paraguayan passport. He told local authorities in a hearing that the document was a gift from a Brazilian businessman, Wilmondes Sousa Liria, who was also jailed.
"I decided to put them in house arrest because the investigation is now well advanced, differently from the situation one month ago," Judge Gustavo Amarilla said when issuing the ruling.
Ronaldinho had his Brazilian passport seized at home due to an investigation into alleged environmental crimes, but the document was returned to him in September. One month later he played in a friendly in Israel.
If convicted, the former Barcelona star could spend up to five years in jail. Fourteen people are being investigated in the case.
Attorney Sérgio Queiroz told The Associated Press that Ronaldinho and his brother will not make public statements until the case is closed.
Ronaldinho came to Paraguay to promote his autobiography. He was jailed in an improvised penitentiary in the south of Asunción, which is used for 150 dangerous criminals, including convicts of drug dealing, corruption and rape. During his stay he played soccer with inmates and took pictures with them that were shared on social media.
UEFA is exploring changes to Financial Fair Play rules as clubs grapple with the sudden loss in revenue caused by the coronavirus pandemic abruptly halting competitions across Europe.
The cost-control regulations were introduced a decade ago as a response to the global financial crisis caused by the banking collapse in a bid to prevent European clubs accumulating big losses.
But the break-even rules, which force clubs playing in the Champions League and Europa League to spend only what they earn, restrict wealthy owners from pumping money into clubs to spend on transfer fees and player salaries.
Now such injections of cash from investors could be necessary to maintain the financial health of clubs. Some clubs, including 2019 Champions League finalist Tottenham, are benefiting from tax payer aid with some non-playing staff furloughed using a British government scheme that pays wages.
UEFA, while trying to figure out when the season can resume, is assessing the rule changes needed as the pandemic causes financial tremors across the European game.
"A working group has been set up to look at how club licensing/FFP might need to adapt to take account of the extraordinary challenges that clubs face, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis," UEFA told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "The situation is evolving fast and the working group is continuously monitoring the situation with the aim to come to a proposal in the coming weeks."
Spanish league president Javier Tebas has been a long-standing advocate of FFP, particularly pushing for Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City to be punished because they benefit from investments linked to nation-state ownership.
City has been banned from the Champions League for the next two seasons for alleged deceptions about the source of revenue from Abu Dhabi — a case and appeal that is not impacted by any FFP changes.
But Tebas is now relaxing his stance about owners pumping cash into clubs, if that does not distort the player market.
"If those people want to invest a lot of money into football ... to reduce the debt levels of clubs," Tebas said, "well I think that would be studied and I think that could be possible."
But Tebas still does not want countries like Qatar, which owns PSG, to be allowed to inflate the bank balances which can be spent on players.
"What is concerning is the states," Tebas said. "When the crisis comes to an end maybe they won't be affected. If we talk about these clubs owned by states this is something I don't agree with.
"The fact we have a crisis doesn't mean we should allow any financial contribution just from anyone. ... So if (someone) comes along and wants to help a club and with a billion euros that should be to help to reduce the debt levels. That shouldn't be allowed to get a competitive advantage and then their losses are going up for the next few seasons."
FFP is also about ensuring clubs meet their financial obligations, including paying transfer fees to rivals on time. Spanish clubs have 350 million euros in outstanding transfer payments to collect from European clubs by Sept. 30, according to Spanish league president Javier Tebas.
"If European clubs don't pay Spanish clubs the Spanish clubs may not be able to pay other European clubs," Tebas said. "That is why it's important for the Financial Fair Play regulations to continue as they are and there is no one who wants to make the most of the circumstances and not pay. It is important Financial Fair Play regulations are abided by as they exist at the moment."
The UEFA executive committee did agree last week to give member associations more time to complete the club licensing process, including providing financial documents, given there is no clear time frame for starting next season.
"The current exceptional circumstances necessitate some specific interventions to facilitate the work of member associations and clubs," UEFA said of FFP.
Marseille is the biggest club announced as being under investigation for its finances this season after being accused of breaching an agreement imposed to settle previous financial problems. The club, which is second in the French league, agreed not to exceed a loss of 30 million euros under FFP calculations this season, and limit the ratio of player salaries compared to overall revenue.
According to the most recent data from UEFA, club across Europe made a combined profit of 140 million euros in 2018 compared to losses of 1.163 billion euros in 2009 before FFP was implemented.