After more than half a year with games held behind closed doors, sports fans were finally able to return to terraces this weekend after the number of inoculated reached four million in Hungary, although only those who have immunity certificates. As a result, numbers were moderate.
Last Monday, the government announced that when the number of Hungarians inoculated against Covid reaches four million, a large-scale reopening would begin, including sports events. In addition, the new rules haven’t set any limit for the number of spectators, meaning clubs can even sell out their stadiums. However, the return to events was only possible for those holding an immunity certificate, received after having been vaccinated at least once, or if recovered from the coronavirus in the past six months.
It was finally the Prime Minister who confirmed in his regular radio interview on Friday morning, that from Saturday on the new rules would apply. The announcement, however, reignited debates about the government’s immunity certificate rollout policies too: as we previously reported, the documents are delivered usually some ten days after receiving the first jab, something that still raises concerns about proper protection.
Despite Ferencváros chief (and ruling Fidesz’s party director) Gábor Kubatov having said earlier in the week that Saturday’s FTC-Mezőkövesd would probably be ok to receive fans and FTC began to sell tickets accordingly, the game only attracted roughly 3,627 fans (and this included healthcare workers too, for whom the club offered free entry as a show of gratitude).
This was actually the green-whites’ last home game, where fans could finally celebrate the club’s 32nd championship title. The organized fan groups’ decision not to attend the game certainly played a great role in the low numbers. Since many of their members wouldn’t haven been allowed into the stadium (due to lack of vaccination or immunity certificate) the groups decided not to attend the game- at least not in an organized form.
Actually, virtually all such groups across the country followed suit, with many pointing to the “discriminatory” new rules. Although being a crucial match in terms of avoiding relegation, Zalaegerszeg’s fan groups similarly stayed away, resulting in some 975 spectators against Kisvárda (where 0-0 eventually meant that ZTE kept its place in NB1).
Somewhat more surprisingly, others decided not to take advantage of the eased restrictions. Despite the permission and their fight for promotion, second division Gyirmót FC refused to reopen at all for their Sunday game against local rival Győri ETO.
Today’s Cup final in Puskás Aréna (between Újpest and MOL Fehérvár) will likely be held in a similar atmosphere: no attendance limits, required immunity certificate, and likely much lower attendance than in normal times.
The requirement for an immunity certificate will remain for the upcoming European Championships too, although by that time, every Hungarian wanting to get inoculated could do so (and would receive the certificate too). As a matter of fact, Hungary is the only host country to not set any limits for the number of entering spectators.
featured image via Márton Mónus/MTI