Bayern Munich set to play in empty stadium over coronavirus

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MUNICH (AP) — Bayern Munich will likely host Barcelona without spectators in the Champions League next week after the state governor said on Tuesday he will demand sports events in empty stadiums due to high coronavirus infection rates.

Bavaria governor Markus Söder said his state would block fans from attending games even if there isn't an agreement to do it nationwide, ahead of talks later Tuesday between Germany's states, outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel and her designated successor, Olaf Scholz.

“It makes no sense to allow spectators again for the foreseeable future,” Söder told regional broadcaster Bayern 2. “If that doesn't work on the federal level, we will do it for Bavaria alone.”

Söder didn't give a timetable for his plan. Bayern's next home game is against Barcelona on Dec. 8, with a Bundesliga home game against Mainz three days later. The measure would also affect the other top-division men's soccer clubs in Bavaria, Augsburg and Greuther Fürth, and numerous teams in various sports.

Bayern was allowed a full house of 75,000 spectators in October but rising infection rates led to a cut to 25% capacity in Bavaria last week. Fans in the state are required to show a negative test for the coronavirus as well as either proof of vaccination or a recent recovery from the virus.

The Champions League game in Germany next week between Leipzig and Manchester City is already being played without spectators after the state of Saxony became the first to block fans this month. Saxony has the country's highest recent infection rates.

Nationwide measures are also a possibility. Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, expressed dismay on Monday that 50,000 fans were allowed for Cologne's Bundesliga game against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday.

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The Associated Press

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