Fans grace Parma-Empoli friendly in Italy


Italy Parma Tardini Stadium Image: Parma Calcio 1913

After six months of severe lockdown in Italy due to COVID-19 which took a huge toll on lives in the country and is still causing wrenching pain to the world, around 1,000 supporters came to the Tardini Stadium in Parma, Italy, for the pre-season friendly match between Parma Calcio and FC Empoli (0-2). The City of Parma had earlier given the go-ahead to stage the friendly.

The 27,906-capacity Tardini Stadium is a football stadium in Parma, Italy, located near the center of Parma, between the town center and the City walls. It is the home arena of Parma Calcio 1913. The stadium was built in 1923.

Parma Calcio 1913, commonly referred to as Parma, is an Italian football club based in Parma, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. It currently plays in Serie A. Empoli Football Club, commonly referred to as Empoli, is an Italian football club based in Empoli, Tuscany, Italy. Founded in 1920, the side is part of a select group of Italian football clubs that do not belong to a provincial capital City that have participated in the top-flight.

“The Tardini Stadium is the first Serie A arena to reopen its doors to fans after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. We want to take a step back to normal,” a statement sent out by the two-time Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Cup winner Parma read.

“For all this time, we’ve been forced to live without fans in our stadium without the warmth of your support, your contribution to our team, and the excitement that your presence brings us. The priority was, and remains, keeping everyone safe as the struggle against a virus that has caused the world great difficulty and has disrupted everyone’s lives. One of our objectives is to regain some sense of normality, returning to the passions and activities that we have had to renounce as part of the struggle to get this public health crisis under control,” the statement further read.

The statement added, “Of course, we are desperate to open the stadium up without restrictions on the number of fans, so that we can all experience the Crociati’s matches together, but for the time being, this is the most that we are allowed to accommodate. We understand that this is by no means a return to normality, but at the same time we are keen to do everything we can to have the fans back at our side.”

Wearing of face covers was made mandatory in the stadium and enough social distancing was ensured with fans sitting at a safe distance from each other. There was temperature check and the turnstiles in front of the stadium were removed. Those over 37.5 Celsius temperature was denied entry. Fans at the game were divided into two different sections of the Tardini Stadium.

However, recently, Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he was not open to the idea of letting in spectators into venues as he believed that inevitably more people would congregate at the ingress and egress points of stadia which can prove to be very dangerous as social distancing would go for a toss.

Last week, the Italian Football Association (FIGC) presented a corresponding concept to the Government, as per which up to 26,000 spectators could have been admitted to the Tardini Stadium.

Like in most parts of Europe, coronavirus cases are again rising in Italy. Italy has been severely affected by the fatal respiratory disease with 35,000 people losing their lives so far.

Italian authorities are still discussing whether supporters will be allowed to watch Serie A (the top Italian football league system) matches from the start of the new season which kicks off on September 19th.

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