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Five German national footballers in quarantine over Covid

Unvaccinated Bayern Munich star Joshua Kimmich is one of five players in Germany's national football squad having to quarantine after one tested positive for coronavirus, the German federation (DFB) said Tuesday.

A video screen at the main building of the Autostadt, Wolfsburg, welcomes the national football team.
A video screen at the main building of the Autostadt, Wolfsburg, welcomes the national football team. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Swen Pförtner

The infected player, Niklas Suele, is fully vaccinated and currently asymptomatic, added the DFB.

Fellow Bayern teammates Kimmich, Serge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala as well as Karim Adeyemi of RB Salzburg, have been asked to isolate because they are close contacts of his, even though they have tested negative, DFB chief director Bierhoff said.

“This news, coming so close before the final World Cup qualifiers, is bitter for the coaching team as well as for Die Mannschaft,” said Bierhoff.

The latest high profile case comes as Germany is fighting a surge in new infections, with its seven-day Covid rate striking a new record on Tuesday.

It also puts the spotlight again on Kimmich, who had sparked a fierce debate in the country last month when he revealed he opted not to get vaccinated, because of “personal concerns”.

It even prompted Interior Minister Horst Seehofer to urge him directly to rethink his position as “vaccination is the main weapon in the fight against the pandemic”.

Kimmich appears to be in the minority as more than 90 percent of footballers and backroom staff in Germany’s top two leagues are vaccinated, according to figures released last month by the German Football League (DFL).

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COVID-19

Court turns down AfD-led challenge to Germany’s spending in pandemic

The German Constitutional Court rejected challenges Tuesday to Berlin's participation in the European Union's coronavirus recovery fund, but expressed some reservations about the massive package.

Court turns down AfD-led challenge to Germany's spending in pandemic

Germany last year ratified the €750-billion ($790-billion) fund, which offers loans and grants to EU countries hit hardest by the pandemic.

The court in Karlsruhe ruled on two challenges, one submitted by a former founder of the far-right AfD party, and the other by a businessman.

They argued the fund could ultimately lead to Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, having to take on the debts of other EU member states on a permanent basis.

But the Constitutional Court judges ruled the EU measure does not violate Germany’s Basic Law, which forbids the government from sharing other countries’ debts.

READ ALSO: Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

The judgement noted the government had stressed that the plan was “intended to be a one-time instrument in reaction to an unprecedented crisis”.

It also noted that the German parliament retains “sufficient influence in the decision-making process as to how the funds provided will be used”.

The judges, who ruled six to one against the challenges, did however express some reservations.

They questioned whether paying out such a large amount over the planned period – until 2026 – could really be considered “an exceptional measure” to fight the pandemic.

At least 37 percent of the funds are aimed at achieving climate targets, the judges said, noting it was hard to see a link between combating global warming and the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Germany to fast-track disputed €200 billion energy fund

They also warned against any permanent mechanism that could lead to EU members taking on joint liability over the long term.

Berenberg Bank economist Holger Schmieding said the ruling had “raised serious doubts whether the joint issuance to finance the fund is in line with” EU treaties.

“The German court — once again — emphasised German limits for EU fiscal integration,” he said.

The court had already thrown out a legal challenge, in April 2021, that had initially stopped Berlin from ratifying the financial package.

Along with French President Emmanuel Macron, then chancellor Angela Merkel sketched out the fund in 2020, which eventually was agreed by the EU’s 27 members in December.

The first funds were disbursed in summer 2021, with the most given to Italy and Spain, both hit hard by the pandemic.

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