Ex-Germany captain Philipp Lahm has warned football is in an “existential crisis” and players’ behaviour will face intense public scrutiny during the coronavirus crisis.
The 2014 World Cup-winning skipper says German football, in particular, must protect its core strengths during the leagues’ lockdown.
With no prospect of a swift resumption, the Bundesliga season has been suspended until April 30, although that is also likely to be set back.
Lahm, in an interview with German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, has urged footballers to show a social conscience during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many of the game’s stars have given large donations to charity, while clubs, suddenly hit by a financial crisis, have sought for players to accept significant pay cuts until they can return to work.
The willingness to make sacrifices is one that 36-year-old former Bayern Munich great Lahm believes will be closely watched by fans.
“Football can even emerge stronger from the crisis under one condition: if players and officials act as role models in public through their social behaviour,” Lahm said.
“The fundraisers of coaches and players show they have a sense of responsibility. It’s a good time to give something back to the society that carries our sport and the people who love football.”
Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski and his wife Anna have made a €1million donation to a coronavirus-fighting fund, with a number of team-mates also contributing major sums.
Lahm, who retired from playing in 2017, said: “Football is just at the moment in an existential crisis, so solidarity is needed.”
He spoke in the interview of the need to “maintain structures that characterise German football”, including its youth development, stadiums, training set-ups and public approval.
Like everyone, Lahm is waiting for the day football can safely resume.
“Football will recover quickly,” he added, “as soon as the risk of transmission is contained by an appropriate vaccine.”