First European game with fans in stands

First European game with fans in stands

BUDAPEST • For Bayern Munich fan Sven Widmann, it was worth driving to Budapest just to watch the Champions League winners play in Thursday’s Uefa Super Cup, the first European game played with some fans in the stands since the sport returned amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“My last game at the stadium was in March,” said Widmann, sporting a new Bayern jersey and smiling broadly at Budapest’s 67,000-seat Puskas Stadium behind his face mask.

As a pilot project to allow fans to return, around 15,500 fans watched the contest in Budapest, which proved controversial since the German government classed the Hungarian capital a risk zone.

“We all know that it is not easy, especially with this (health) situation, to make good decisions,” said Bayern coach Hansi Flick after the 2-1 win over Sevilla.

“It was good to have this atmosphere, it’s great that fans came, it’s better for football obviously. It was more like football.”

Having had to pass in front of special thermal cameras which measure fans’ body temperatures before entering the stadium, Widmann was one of around only a thousand Bayern fans who made the trip from Germany.

The season ticket holder at Munich’s Allianz Arena was rewarded as the Bavarian giants completed a quadruple.

“It’s really special, because Bayern have spoilt us in recent months. So there’s a lot of joy,” added Widmann, who had to cheer last season’s Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League triumphs via television.

The match in Budapest was also the first time Sevilla fans could see the Spanish La Liga team play live in a stadium since March. A noisy group of 350 Sevilla fans cheered their team.

At the start of the match, social distancing was observed fairly well – unlike in Hungarian domestic league games, when it has not been enforced.

After the first goal, a penalty by Sevilla winger Lucas Ocampos, even hardcore fans in a corner section stayed well apart – although four Spanish reporters in the stands came together for a quick bear hug.

SEEMS LIKE FOOTBALL AGAIN

It was good to have this atmosphere, it’s great that fans came, it’s better for football obviously. It was more like football.

HANSI FLICK, Bayern Munich coach, on the Uefa pilot project to allow fans to return at Budapest’s 67,000-seat Puskas Stadium.

The equaliser by Bayern midfielder Leon Goretzka showed that most people in the arena were overwhelmingly fans of the Bavarian club but they remained safely spread out as they celebrated loudly. They also showed restraint when midfielder Javi Martinez put Bayern ahead in the first period of extra time and the German champions hung on.

All fans returning to Germany must test negative for Covid-19 or face a two-week quarantine.

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin said the organisation would use the experience to decide what to do about future games.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS