The ongoing pandemic will have a lasting impact on the way we enjoy football. For the time being, football fans cannot cheer for their favourite teams in person; they will have to rely on broadcasts and online streams to see the players in action.
Most domestic leagues agreed that allowing fans on the grandstands, even in limited numbers, would have a result as unpredictable as a game at Vegas Palms Online Casino. Thus, football matches across Europe will, at least for now, played behind closed doors. In some cases, even the commentators will have to do their job remotely.
Matches Without Fans Across Europe – With One Exception
A Champions League match in Milan, Italy, will go down in history as “Game Zero”. Bergamo’s own Serie A team Atalanta was hosting Valencia at the San Siro Stadium in Milan on February 19th this year. Fans packed out the stadium; aside from huge numbers of local fans showing up, there were also about 2,500 Valencia fans present.
Less than a week after the match, the first cases were reported in the province of Bergamo; a journalist from Valencia became the second person to be confirmed infected about the same time. Bergamo became one of the epicentres of the pandemic in Italy. The coronavirus even infected a third of Valencia’s players.
Keeping the fans away from the stadiums seems a great idea, considering the potential disaster letting them participate could lead to.
Hungary is among the countries with the lowest number of COVID-19 infections, with a total of just above 4,000 cases. A nation full of football fans that could hardly wait for their teams’ return to the field. Their long wait was not in vain; Hungarian teams returned to the turf sooner than many others.
In a perhaps unexpected move, the Hungarian authorities allowed a limited number of supporters (up to 10,000) attend the Budapest Honvéd-Mezőkövesd match – the Nemzeti Bajnokság (national championship) final – played at Budapest’s Puskás Arena. The condition for the supporters to be allowed to participate was for them to maintain the required distance. They didn’t maintain this distance.
The players themselves were also a bit too excited to be back on the turf. Players of both teams left the designated sport area and went among the supporters; this move cost the teams 1 million HUF each (about $3,300).
There is no way to know if the match will have any negative effects on the Hungarian government’s fight against the virus.
Players and fans alike will have to adapt to the new reality of football, at least for the time being. While it’s definitely not the same – Bayern Munich star Thomas Mueller described his experience at the opener against Union Berlin at the Alten Försterei stadium as “old man’s football” – it’s definitely better than the worst-case scenario of the “Game Zero” above.