Germany’s health minister is open to a resumption of Bundesliga soccer matches on condition that they are played behind closed doors, he said on Wednesday ahead of a crunch decision by officials on Thursday.

Jens Spahn, recognising that such ‘phantom games’ are important for millions of soccer fans, said the decisive factor in making the judgment call on returning to action was whether the players’ health could be secured.

“If this can be achieved with a minimised, or as far as possible excluded risk of infection, then it can certainly be done”, Spahn said.

The Bundesliga has been suspended since mid-March due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus, which has infected more than 145,000 people and killed over 4,800 in Germany.

Regional leaders in Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia said on Monday that any league resumption would be without fans and that there would be no action before May 9.

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Their statements were welcomed by both clubs and the German Football League (DFL) which will meet on Thursday to decide how long to extend the ban past the current April 30 date.

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