Rangers fans have been directly impacted by German curbs on crowd sizes ahead of the club’s hotly anticipated Europa League clash with Borussia Dortmund.
The Gers are set to travel to the Westfalenstadion for the first leg of the tie on February 17th with the return set to take place in Glasgow a week later on the 24th.
But as Rangers fans plan to travel in their thousands to the famous stadium, German rulings over crowd sizes amid the Covid-19 pandemic act as a major blow.
Under the rules, Dortmund would only be able to welcome 750 fans to the ground with the next meeting to decide on loosening restrictions not set until February 16th – the day before Rangers’ visit.
This presents an illogical logistical nightmare for both Rangers and Borussia Dortmund if restrictions are lifted with both sides likely having little over 24 hours to distribute briefs.
The situation has angered Dortmund and their chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke has threatened legal action against the German government as “football falls victim to symbolic politics”.
“We are now examining legal steps to challenge the restriction of just 750 fans,” said Watzke [Herald]
“Almost three-quarters of Germans are vaccinated. For months there have been sufficient vaccination offers for every single citizen in this country. We now know a lot more about Omicron.
“But we allow almost 90 percent of the capacity indoors and only 750 people in outdoor stadiums. People are locked out in the open air.
“That’s not proportionate, that’s not science either, nobody understands that anymore.
“There were always complaints that football was given special rights in Germany. Just the opposite is the case now.
“Football falls victim to symbolic politics. It is bitter that after two years the politicians are only thinking about bans and not also about different possibilities and logical decisions.”
Rangers have already offered Borussia Dortmund an allocation of 2700 with crowd restrictions currently lifted in Scotland for vaccinated spectators.
Dortmund counting cost of Rangers Europa League crowd and Erling Haaland blows
Ticket issues at their home ground aren’t the only problems facing Borussia Dortmund ahead of the Europa League match with Rangers either.
Star striker Erling Haaland – perennially linked with an exit and the world’s biggest clubs as his release clause falls to £65m at the end of the season – is now a major doubt for the game.
Going off midway through the second half of Dortmund’s weekend 3-2 victory over Hoffenheim, Dortmund have confirmed that the striker is suffering from a troublesome muscle injury.
Taking to their official website, Dortmund provided an update regarding the injury and confirmed that the worrying problem requires further examination:
“Haaland was examined in detail on Sunday and Monday. According to the medical report, the Norwegian is suffering from muscular problems, which will require treatment and further examinations in the coming days.
“We hope that Erling will be back to full fitness as soon as possible and can get back to doing what he loves the most – scoring goals for BVB.”
Borussia Dortmund might also be a star-studded outfit full of some quality young talent, but they’re anything but invincible.