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Super Cup Final in Budapest to be Held on Thursday in Front of Spectators Amid Fear of Pandemic Risk

Fanni Kaszás 2020.09.23.

The UEFA Super Cup Final, in which Champions League winner Bayern Munich will take on Europa League champions Spanish Sevilla FC, scheduled for 9 o’clock on Thursday, will be the first European match to be held in front of spectators since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, as a “pilot test” for UEFA for bringing back fans to stadiums. Although special measures accompany the match to ensure the safety of both spectators and citizens, many said that it poses a serious pandemic risk. 

Special measures for safety of both spectators and Hungarian citizens

Only 30% of the 67,215-seat Puskás Aréna will be filled by fans, with 3,000 tickets available for the supporters of each of the finalists. All spectators will have their temperatures checked before entering the stadium. Wearing a mask will be obligatory when entering the stadium and for moving around inside, while it will be recommended when seated, in addition to the usage of hand sanitizers and adherence to the physical distancing rules.

All ticket holders will be subject to mandatory health checks upon entering the country and will have to present a negative coronavirus test no older than 72 hours. Fans from Germany and Spain will be transported separately in order to avoid contact with others while traveling, approaching, or leaving the stadium.

Fans experiencing any of the symptoms of coronavirus, or if their COVID test came back positive at least 14 days prior to the game, or have been in contact with an infected person, will be denied entry to the stadium. In these cases, UEFA will refund the tickets.

Spain: 2,500 tickets unsold out of 3,000

Although 3,000 tickets were made available to both Bayern München and Seville spectators, Seville canceled 2,500 tickets. According to the report of the radio and television company Canal Sur, there will only be five hundred Spanish fans on site at Puskás Arena, as the remaining 2,500 tickets could not be sold due to high travel costs, the coronavirus situation, and strict health checks in Hungary.

2,100 Bayern spectators may arrive, but Budapest on German coronavirus risk list

Meanwhile, probably because their city is only 650 kilometers from Budapest and can easily be reached by train, about 2,100 fans would like to accompany the Bayern Munich football team to Budapest for the match against Seville. “Fans are required to have a negative coronavirus test,” stressed Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, head of the Champions League-winning association. Team sympathizers could test themselves at the club’s expense earlier this week.

At the same time, the news arrived last week that Budapest was added to Germany’s coronavirus pandemic risk list, due to the rising number of coronavirus infections in the Hungarian capital. According to the German rules, those returning to the country from the listed regions have to be tested and quarantined for 14 days until their test results come back.

Due to the country’s risk classification, Bayern Munich head coach Hans-Dieter Flick disagreed with the match held in Budapest, but as he put it “it is not they who make the rules.” At the same time, Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder has asked fans not to travel to Hungary, saying that “my stomach twitches when I think of the Super Cup. Budapest is a risky place, we have to be very careful, we can’t risk it being the Ischgl of football,” referring to the holiday resort in Tyrol, which was one of the focal points of the epidemic at the beginning of the year during the ski season.

Porto mayor threatens UEFA with lawsuit

The Mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira, has threatened the European Football Association (UEFA) with a lawsuit for not holding the Bayern Munich-Seville European Super Cup match in its original location of Porto, but in Budapest. Previously, the Super Cup match was taken away from the city due to the coronavirus situation, but Moreira says that now although the rate of infection is rising in Hungary, it does not seem to force UEFA to take action. The mayor said, “I hope we get a satisfactory response to our complaint. If not, we will go to court.” In his complaint to UEFA, the mayor also points out that at the time of the eighth final of the Champions League, the level of infection in the host city of Lisbon was higher than when the decision was made about taking the Super Cup match from his city. Although the main argument for changing the competition calendar was the coronavirus, UEFA justified moving the final to Budapest by not having both club tournament finals in Portugal.

Opposition parties demand match behind closed doors

The Super Cup final has become a contested debate in Hungary as well. Critics note that despite the special rules, an event with more than 20,000 in attendance poses a serious pandemic risk, especially since Hungary’s borders are still closed for everyone else, in addition to other rules, such as clubs and venues now have to close at 11 pm.

The Socialist party (MSZP) has been campaigning for the match to be held without spectators ever since it was announced that fans would be admitted to the arena. Meanwhile, the Democratic Coalition (DK) also called on Sándor Csányi, President of the Hungarian Football Association (MLSZ), to hold the Budapest final of the European Super Cup behind closed doors.

featured: Tibor Illyés/MTI