UEFA decision on fan return expected next week after Super Cup test, Newsline

BERLIN – Europe’s ruling football body UEFA is expected to decide next week whether fans would be allowed back to matches in their competitions such as the Champions League and Nations League, sources have told dpa.

An according decision would have to be made by the UEFA executive committee which is set to meet in a video conference around next Thursday’s (October 1) Champions League group stage draw.

UEFA will evaluate the Super Cup match between Bayern Munich and Sevilla in Budapest which was played in front of 15,180 fans on Thursday, according to the official match report.

It was the first UEFA match with fans during the pandemic as all previous games in the period were played behind closed doors, such as the completion of the men’s and women’s Champions League and the Europa League, and the start of the Nations League.

All competitions have their next matches in October.

The Super Cup was used as a test run whether fans could be readmitted in limited numbers amid a strict hygiene and safety protocol.

UEFA said later in the day that “the organization was flawless” as it would further assess the game with Hungarian authorities. “We were happy to experience a real football atmosphere again.”

Hungarian newspapers meanwhile had conflicting reports whether the protocol had been met by everyone.

The Nepszava paper said on its website that many fans had queued at the stadium entrance without social distancing and face masks, and that there was also less social distancing than ordered during extra time of the game Bayern won 2-1.

Government paper Magyar Nemzet meanwhile said that there had been no noticeable mass gatherings of fans in the stands.

Staging the match with fans was controversial because of a spike in Covid-19 cases in Budapest and the region deemed high risk by German health authorities.

Each team was allocated 3,000 tickets but Sevilla handed back 2,500 of them last week, and many of the 2,100 Bayern fans scheduled to make the trip are also believed to have cancelled amid stricter quarantine rules imposed in Bavaria for returning fans.

Frank Ulrich Montgomery, chairman of World Medical Association, meanwhile strongly criticized the presence of fans in Budapest.

“Football seems to be enjoying the privilege of fools. That is counterproductive and a wrong signal,” Montgomery told the Passauer Neue Presse paper late Thursday.

“When citizens cannot spend their holidays abroad, but Bayern Munich’s bosses and players can travel to a risk area, that’s a devastating sign.”

Munich officials meanwhile welcomed the return of fans which has also started in the German and other leagues.

“It was a wonderful feeling to celebrate this trophy with our fans in person again. When I looked around the stadium after the game, I saw many happy Bayern fans,” Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.

“It was an important step back to a normal footballing culture, to emotional rollercoaster and atmosphere inside the stadium.”