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German football has 'enormous responsibility' says Neuer

Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich goalkeeper and Germany captain, says Bundesliga footballers must be role models when the German league returns later in May.
Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich goalkeeper and Germany captain, says Bundesliga footballers must be role models when the German league returns later in May. Christof STACHE AFP
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Berlin (AFP)

Germany captain Manuel Neuer says Bundesliga footballers have an "enormous responsibility" after the league was given permission on Wednesday to restart from mid May.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave the go-ahead for the Bundesliga to resume behind closed doors, amid strict hygiene measures and regular testing of players.

The DFL is expected to set a restart date - most likely May 16 or the weekend after - following a video conference meeting on Thursday.

The Bundesliga will then become the first of Europe's top five leagues to restart.

"People will be looking at us from other European countries, indeed all over the world," Neuer told Frankfurt-based newspaper FAZ.

"This is an enormous responsibility for us, which we must be aware of with every fiber. It is now up to us."

The DFL has drawn up detailed plans to restart and Neuer, captain and goalkeeper of defending champions Bayern Munich, sees the medical concept as the "best possible" way forward.

"Now it is up to each individual at each club to bring this concept to life in a disciplined manner."

He said the players must ensure the league returns successfully.

"We are particularly responsible for tens of thousands of jobs in diverse industries that live with, and through, football," Neuer added.

"And we are responsible for all those fans for whom football is a big part of their lives."

Bayern were four points clear - and chasing an eighth league title - when the Bundesliga halted on March 13.

There is fierce debate whether league football should resume amid the pandemic which has so far claimed around 7,000 lives in Germany.

Hertha Berlin striker Salomon Kalou was suspended by his club on Monday and slammed by politicians for shaking hands with team-mates in a video, flaunting social distancing guidelines.

In the wake of the Kalou incident, Neuer, a four-time world goalkeeper of the year, said it should be a "warning sign" to all pro footballers.

Neuer conjured images of Germany's victory in the 2014 World Cup final at Rio de Janiero's Maracana Stadium to make his point.

"We were the darlings of an entire nation when we became world champions at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on 13 July 2014," he said.

"Now we're wearing a different jersey: that of our social role models."

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