The German league will lead the way on Saturday, as professional football resumes after the Covid-19 outbreak, but some concerning dangers will be faced.
A top German sports doctor has warned of career-threatening lung damage, as well as serious injuries, as players return to competitive action since the Bundesliga suspension in March.
As previously confirmed, no fans will be allowed to attend the games while media and clubs will only have a limited number of officials at the events.
Additionally, players face very minimum contact on the pitch, which includes no hugs for goal celebrations and of course no handshakes before & after the game.
But Prof. Dr Wilhelm Bloch, from the German Sports University in Cologne, warns that catching the coronavirus could end careers.
“There is a risk that top athletes may lose their level of performance and never regain it,” Bloch said to AFP as reported by TimesLIVE.
“Generally, the physical makeup, immune system and cardiovascular system of elite athletes means that the risk to them is low.
“However, we do not know at this time whether even minor infections, or even mild symptoms, do not cause damage, such as minor scarring of the lungs after an inflammation.
“This damage may be irreversible, or may last a very long time before the body repairs it.
“We’ve already had players infected in Europe and we’ll soon know if they recover their full potential.”
Bloch also touched on the risk players face within families and in public as Germany stands at 172,239 recorded cases and more than 7,700 deaths.
“Players are not in total quarantine, they are with their families, even if they have been instructed to limit contact,” he added
“And there are also risks during matches.
“They will all be tested, but not all the coronavirus tests work perfectly. There is a relatively large margin of error.”
So, what about the much-outlined high risks of injuries players may face after more than a month without competitive football, a week of training and no friendly matches?
“Obviously, the players are not optimally prepared,” Bloch said, with clubs only resuming full team training last week.
“Depending on the degree of preparation, the risk of injury increases. We can expect that the players will be more prone to injuries.
“We will see muscle injuries, but also injuries to the musculoskeletal system and tendons. You can’t compare it with the start of the season.
“At the beginning of the season they normally have a very intensive training period, then a short break so that the body can regenerate, and then they attack the season.
“Now, that hasn’t been possible for all the teams.
“I’m not a psychologist, it’s difficult to assess, but I think it’s going to be a difficult transition and it won’t necessarily be good for their performance,” said Bloch.
“It’s also going to be one of those factors that you have to consider and one of the risk factors for injury.