Coronavirus: No fans at La Liga stadiums for rest of the season, say organizers

Atletico Madrid's Saul Niguez scores their second goal from the penalty spot, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease. (Reuters)

Spain’s secretary for sport Irene Lozano and La Liga president Javier Tebas have categorically ruled out fans returning to matches before the end of this season to minimize the risk of the novel coronavirus spreading.

Tebas said last month that fans should be allowed back once it is safe to do so, while the league drew up a draft protocol in the event that the government’s department for sport approved their return. Yet Lozano, who has repeatedly stated that the campaign should finish without supporters as those were the conditions for matches returning after the March hiatus, drew a line under the matter in a breakfast meeting with reporters on Thursday.

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“The safest thing to do is to complete the season without spectators,” she said.

“Football moves masses of people, it’s not like the theatre. A match behind-closed-doors is attended by only 250 people, but a stadium only at one-third of its capacity could mean 30,000 people. That’s why it’s different to other activities.”

None of Europe’s top five leagues have been able to hold matches with spectators since football has returned, although championships in countries such as Serbia, Bulgaria, and Denmark have allowed fans back in to matches.

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Tebas said that the league was no longer planning for fans to return, adding that the main obstacle was the prospect of people congregating before and after games, as happened at a recent derby between Sporting Gijon and Real Oviedo.

“Right now La Liga is not prioritizing the return of supporters to stadiums,” he said.

“The big problem is the crowds inside and outside the stadium. We had problems with the Asturian derby as there were more than 2,000 people outside. We can’t afford to kid ourselves because if we aren’t careful there could be a second wave.”

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Last Update: Thursday, 02 July 2020 KSA 16:13 - GMT 13:13
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