Poland, Rus­sia plan to al­low spec­ta­tors at soc­cer games

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS -

Pol­ish foot­ball sup­port­ers will be able to at­tend matches start­ing on June 19, Pol­ish Prime Min­is­ter Ma­teusz Mo­raw­iecki said on Fri­day, but only 25 per cent of the ca­pac­ity of sta­di­ums will be used to pre­vent COVID-19 from spread­ing.

Al­though sev­eral Euro­pean leagues are restart­ing af­ter the coro­n­avirus out­break, matches are be­ing played be­hind closed doors. The Pol­ish league will be one of the first to al­low spec­ta­tors.

“The Pol­ish Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion and the Premier League have cho­sen the 19th, so it will be pos­si­ble to pre­pare ev­ery­thing ac­cord­ing to the cor­rect pro­ce­dures,” Mo­raw­iecki said.

“We all need foot­ball and sport. This is the im­por­tant el­e­ment of our re­turn to the new nor­mal­ity. That’s why we give the op­por­tu­nity to foot­ball fans to par­tic­i­pate in the events at the sta­di­ums, of course only af­ter se­cur­ing ad­e­quate safety mea­sures. The spe­cific rules will be an­nounced soon.”

The league said in a state­ment that the ex­act num­ber of spec­ta­tors would de­pend on the sta­di­ums, but the max­i­mum would be one quar­ter of ca­pac­ity.

The league was one of the first in Europe to an­nounce a re­turn to ac­tion fol­low­ing the coro­n­avirus stop­page, with the first match played Fri­day between Slask Wro­claw

and Rakow Czesto­chowa.

“All the play­ers were tested for COVID-19 and their re­sults were neg­a­tive,” league pres­i­dent Marcin An­imucki said.

“We are well pre­pared for the re­turn. The peo­ple that will come to the sta­di­ums will be se­cure. It will be an ex­cel­lent time for the pro­mo­tion of Pol­ish foot­ball in Europe.”

There are four rounds of matches left in the reg­u­lar sea­son. Af­ter that, the top eight teams qual­ify for the cham­pi­onship group, where they’ll play for the ti­tle and Euro­pean places, while the re­main­ing eight go into the rel­e­ga­tion round.

‘MOOD IS VERY STRANGE’

Rus­sia’s Sports Min­is­ter said on Fri­day he wel­comed a de­ci­sion by the au­thor­i­ties to al­low spec­ta­tors into sta­di­ums when matches in the coun­try’s top pro­fes­sional soc­cer league re­sume next month.

The Rus­sian Premier League halted matches in mid-march be­cause of the COVID-19 cri­sis and is set to re­sume ac­tion on June 21.

“It’s im­por­tant that the soc­cer cham­pi­onship re­sumes in the pres­ence of spec­ta­tors, even though small in num­ber,” Rus­sian news agen­cies quoted Sports Min­is­ter Oleg Matytsin as say­ing.

“I watched Bun­desliga matches. The mood is very strange. There isn’t enough emo­tion. With­out spec­ta­tors, the matches don’t look the way we are used to.”

Sev­eral Euro­pean pro leagues re­sumed matches this month, in­clud­ing Ger­man’s top pro­fes­sional league, but with­out spec­ta­tors.

Rus­sia’s con­sumer health watch­dog agreed on Thurs­day that sta­di­ums could wel­come spec­ta­tors at Rus­sian Premier League matches if they took up no more than 10 per cent of a given venue’s ca­pac­ity.

Cham­pi­ons Zenit Saint Peters­burg cur­rently lead the stand­ings on 50 points af­ter 22 matches played. Loko­mo­tiv Moscow and Krasnodar are sec­ond and third re­spec­tively, nine points be­hind the lead­ers.

Ear­lier this month, Rus­sia said it would al­low for­eign ath­letes com­pet­ing in its do­mes­tic sports leagues to en­ter the coun­try.

It said the move was de­signed to help clubs re­sume train­ing.

LA LIGA TO RE­TURN

Spain’s La Liga will restart on June 11, nearly three months af­ter it shut down be­cause of the coro­n­avirus.

The Span­ish govern­ment an­nounced this week that com­pet­i­tive sports could re­turn on June 8, and Spain’s Na­tional Sports Coun­cil con­firmed La Liga’s comeback date on Fri­day.

The Seville derby between Sevilla and Real Betis is sched­uled to be played that day.

There won’t be any fans in the stands dur­ing the matches, and clubs must fol­low the league’s safety pro­to­col, which was ap­proved by the Min­istry of Health.

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