SINGAPORE - Despite a generally successful Bundesliga restart last week, Borussia Dortmund managing director Carsten Cramer warned against complacency as the German Football League seeks to complete the season during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ahead of their visit to Wolfsburg on Saturday (May 23), Cramer told The Straits Times: "We're all happy and relieved it went smoothly. It was one important step, but it is still a long run to the finish line.
"Pressure still exists. Everyone is still watching, observing us on how we apply ourselves. We have to concentrate and shouldn't lose focus on our objectives on and off the pitch, most importantly the dedication we have for football."
Since last week's 26th round of games, there have been no reports of any positive coronavirus tests for staff or players.
This led English Premier League chief Richard Masters to suggest similar resumptions can be replicated elsewhere.
The German blueprint includes mass testing before the restart, limiting attendees to essential staff, the practise of safety distance, and the cooperation of players and fans.
After keeping a clean sheet in the 4-0 win over derby rivals Schalke, Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki said: "This was no different from the games we used to play when we were children; without spectators, just having fun. You could notice it in how our team played."
Cramer also praised supporters for not gathering outside the stadiums. He said: "We had lots of positive and constructive discussions with them before, so they knew their responsibilities for the club's success moving forward."
As with every experiment, there are learning points. In their 3-0 win at Hoffenheim, Hertha Berlin players celebrated with hugs and high-fives, which are against the new regulations.
But critics have questioned the wisdom of restricting such actions and the requirements that players and staff wear masks and practise safe-distancing off the pitch. They argue it is unnecessary given the negative test results and the amount of physical contact involving players during matches.
Cramer insisted he would rather err on the side of caution with eight rounds to go, and said: "This is not the moment for us to discuss everything but to see the overall big picture in a positive way. Individual discipline is key and vital, hence these will be a big tests for us in the coming weeks."
He also revealed that should the coronavirus be contained, Dortmund, who have an Asia Pacific office in Singapore since 2014, could visit the Republic in the summer for promotional activities.
The club had been set to feature at the International Champions Cup at the National Stadium in July alongside Manchester United and Liverpool but the tournament was cancelled due to the outbreak.
He said: "There could be some possibility of a legend visit. We hope a first team player can come along but this is all dependent on the Covid-19 situation and also the safety and security of our players and staff to travel."