French stadia to greet fans back on July 11


Stade de France back with fans Image: Stade de France

French stadiums will welcome fans back to its fold on July 11 with the rider that only 5,000 spectators will be let in with strict social distancing rules in place due to COVID-19 global outbreak, the specter of risk of which has still not gone.

Ligue 1 – the top tier of French football – has already ended its season due to COVID-19 but the finals of the Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue are still scheduled to go ahead at the 80,698-capacity Stade de France in Paris.

The French Ligue 1 2019-20 seasons officially ended on April 30 with Paris Saint-Germain crowned champions.

It was the only one of the five biggest domestic soccer leagues in Europe to call off the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Coupe de France is the premier knockout cup competition in French football organized by the French Football Federation (FFF). The Coupe de la Ligue, also known as the French League Cup, is a knockout cup competition in French football organized by the Ligue de Football Professionnel.

Though the dates for the two matches have not been announced as yet, but, the French Government loosening the leash on restrictions might pave the way for a limited number of fans to attend the finals. The ruling would also allow French football fans to attend pre-season matches ahead of the start of the 2020-21 campaign on August 22.

The Government has announced that in mid-July a further review of the “national epidemiological situation” would be carried out to gauge whether further easing of restrictions would be a plausible proposition in the second half of August.

The Coupe de France final will see Paris Saint-Germain take on Saint-Etienne, while PSG will face Olympique Lyonnais in the final of the Coupe de la Ligue.

Japan to allow fans

Meanwhile in Japan, the Nippon Professional Baseball league and the J-League football competition are set to allow fans into stadiums from July 10. Both the leagues announced the plans at a joint press meet held on June 22nd .

J-League is Japan’s professional football league and is due to resume on July 4. Five thousand spectators or 50 percent of the stadium’s capacity will be allowed – whichever is smaller.

Nippon Professional Baseball is the highest level of baseball in Japan and comprises two leagues – the Central League and the Pacific League, each boasting six teams each. There are also two secondary-level professional minor leagues, the Eastern League and the Western League, that play shorter schedules for developing players. Japan’s baseball season resumed behind closed doors recently.

Nippon Professional Baseball Commissioner Atsushi Saito stated, “We must fully consider the current situation … but we have received word from Government officials that we can declare that we will let spectators in from July 10.”

The coronavirus menace has already led to the postponement of this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in the Japanese capital Tokyo.

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