Spain closes the door to the public in the Champions League

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UEFA authorizes 30% capacity in stadiums, but clubs, despite the need for income, still face regional sanitary restrictions

UEFA’s decision to allow 30% capacity for European matches to enter the stadiums is having an uneven reception in Spain, according to the criteria of the health authorities of the autonomous communities, which hold the powers for international tournaments . If the Basque Government has authorized the Royal Society to allow the match on October 29 corresponding to the Europa League against Naples to have 1,000 fans in the stands, the Generalitat denied Barcelona the same request for their appointment next Thursday Tuesday in the Champions League against Ferencvaros.

The Minister of Health of the Generalitat, Alba Vergés, and the Secretary of Health, Josep Maria Argimon expressed their refusal to grant Barça its first match with fans. A measure in line with the recent closure of bars and restaurants until the end of the month in Catalonia. Although also a small blow for the Barça club, which presented on Wednesday the Clean and Safe Space protocol – drawn up after the conclusion of the confinement and retouched for the occasion – to be able to dispute the duel before a thousand of its fans. “In the current situation, it is very difficult for us to consider that there may be an audience. We cannot venture that it will be like this for the whole season, but now, impossible ”, reflected Vergés.

The desire of the clubs to welcome spectators again, at least in European duels, is explained from the need to recover part of their income. The Association of European Clubs (ECA) estimates the decrease in income of the entities at 4,000 million euros during the next two years. Barça, for example, closed last year with 97 million losses.

The Royal Society, with the yes of the Basque Government, qualifies the authorization to host the public. “Between now and October 29 we will be at the expense of what the health authorities say. If they tell us that things are going to get worse and that we cannot open the field, it will be respected ”, agreed Jokin Aperribay, president of the Real, aware that 257 people have already attended Lezama to see Athletic-Deportivo de la Liga Iberdrola, and that 400 saw the Baskonia-Real Madrid of the Euroleague live.

It happens that not all Spanish clubs act the same. Real Madrid does not consider that it should request permission in its duel against Shakhtar on the 21st of this month. “We don’t have to ask. This is something that must come from the health authorities in collusion with the CSD. When the conditions are met for the public to return, we will receive the relevant notice “, they resolve from the white club. Atlético has taken the same attitude. Neither of the two Madrid clubs has introduced an audience for the matches of its Second B affiliates or of the women’s team, being able to do so in accordance with the action protocol for the return of official competitions at a state level and non-professional, which establishes the capacity at 1,000 people at most.

Sevilla (their fans were able to attend the European Super Cup against Bayern in Budapest) has raised the request to the Junta de Andalucía, which has been referred to a consultation with the Higher Sports Council and the Government, so it seems complicated the approval. Granada – the Andalusian capital with the highest incidence of the virus, even the University was closed – is more direct. “We are waiting to receive instructions and authorization from the authorities so that there can be a public at the first or second European meeting,” explains Antonio Fernández, general director of the club.

Alemania and Italy

Considering that the Spain-Germany on November 17, of the League of Nations, will be played in La Cartuja de Sevilla without an audience after consulting the Andalusian health authorities, it will be difficult for the clubs in this territory to be able to count on authorization for European appointments. Villarreal is also waiting for a response from the Generalitat.

The CSD continues to maintain its position that it is best if there is no public attendance at stadiums. He made this known to UEFA last week by letter. “In the letter we do not express the prohibition in an express way, because the powers for European competitions belong to the autonomous communities, but we do express a firm recommendation that there is no public,” they explain in the Council. The CSD even keeps a letter up its sleeve in case it considers that it should act against the attendance of the public: it is the Spanish Government that authorizes foreign teams to enter Spain.

Stadium fans already enter the Bundesliga (without being able to sing or drink alcohol), so for European matches in Germany it will not be different. It happens, however, that the Leipzig stadium can still enter 7,500 while only 1,000 or none at Bayern. It depends on the region and the measure decreed by the government, because if they have more than 50 infected inhabitants in the area per 100,000, they usually do not allow anyone or a maximum of 500 to enter. The resolution is issued before each game.

In England they are stricter, since they do not allow any fans to enter as they clarified it to Manchester United, who drew up a plan for the first Premier game against Crystal Palace and was rejected.

In Italy they do allow access to 1,000 fans per game and it will continue with the same trend in Europe, at least for the moment. And in France, which allows up to 5,000 fans in the stadium, they will maintain that measure, even though it is also limited by the number of infected in the area. And, from this week and for at least a month, all matches that start after 9:00 p.m. will be behind closed doors.


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