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German Team Uses Social Distancing On The Pitch, Loses 37-0

It was either that or a $236 fine.

German amateur side SG Ripdorf II sacrificed a tight defense for social distancing as they fielded only seven players as a coronavirus precaution in a 37-0 loss to local rivals SV Holdenstedt II.

The preparations for Sunday's match in Lower Saxony's 3. Kreisklasse — the 11th tier of German football — were complicated when it emerged that Holdenstedt players had been in contact with an opponent infected with COVID-19 in a previous match.

While all members of the Holdenstedt squad later tested negative for the virus, Ripdorf, from Uelzen in Lower Saxony, did not feel the conditions were safe and were able to field only seven players — the minimum number required for a match.

"We are thankful those seven players volunteered, otherwise the club would have faced a $235.88 fine for abandoning the match," Ripdorf co-chair Patrick Ristow told ESPN. "That's a lot of money for us, especially amid the pandemic."

Holdenstedt showed no mercy and scored a goal nearly every two minutes, while their opponents watched on from a safe distance.

"When the game kicked off, one of our players passed the ball to the opponent and our team walked to the sidelines," Ristow said. "The Holdenstedt players did not understand. But we did not want to risk anything. For the rest of the match, our players returned to the field but they only stood on the pitch."

The match result has since created a stir on social media but Ristow said Ripdorf only focused on what was best for the wellbeing of all the players on the pitch.

"There is no perfect solution for it. And we went down this route," he added. "We wished Holdenstedt no harm."

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