20k fans at Super Cup bring heightened risks

20k fans at Super Cup bring heightened risks

BUDAPEST • Today’s Uefa Super Cup match between Champions League winners Bayern Munich and Europa League holders Sevilla would in normal circumstances be an attractive showpiece clash between two teams enjoying a remarkable run of form.

European and German champions Bayern are unbeaten since Dec 7, a run of 31 competitive games which has seen them humiliate several opponents, including an 8-2 rout of Barcelona, on their way to completing a second treble.

Sevilla’s form has been almost as impressive with no defeats since Feb 9 – a run of 21 matches – as they finished their season by winning a record sixth Europa League.

But the main interest is likely to revolve around the game’s status as a test event for the return of fans to stadiums.

Although some countries have begun allowing spectators back in small numbers, today’s match in Hungary – which acts as the curtain raiser for European competition – is far riskier.

Uefa and local authorities have allowed fans to fill up to 20,000 of the Puskas Arena’s 67,000 seats.

There will, however, be far more local supporters than away fans of both clubs, with many opting not to travel amid the German government’s declaration that Budapest was a Covid-19 red zone.

Referencing the Austrian ski resort of Ischgl, where thousands of holidaymakers were infected with the virus at the outset of the pandemic in Europe, Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge warned that those attending in person would be taking a big risk.

“I think everyone’s stomachs are churning. The game will take place in a city with a rate of infection of over 100 (per 100,000 inhabitants), which is twice as high as that in Munich,” he told German broadcaster ZDF.

Bayern coach Hansi Flick is equally unconvinced by the safety measures and given that his side have barely had a break – the Champions League final was only a month ago – he would have preferred if the match was postponed.

He said: “It’s something that we don’t really understand. It’s not a decision we have taken – it’s been taken by others.”