Hungary resume soccer with limited fans



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Hungary back with fans Image: Tamas Bujnovszky/KÖZTI Architects

The first European league to allow fans to be back to the stadia this last weekend was Nemzeti Bajnokság, the top tier of Hungarian football.

The Nemzeti Bajnokság is the Hungarian professional league for association football clubs. It has been the highest level of the professional league since its inception in 1901. The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) currently ranks the league 33rd in Europe.

The Hungarian National Football Federation (MLSZ) made it clear in no uncertain terms that fans need to be spread out so that no more than one seat in four was occupied and every second row was entirely empty. The federation had strictly told clubs that social distancing will have to be maintained “to guarantee the conditions for epidemiological control”.

Six games took place between Friday and Sunday and the fan attendance was somewhere around 5,500.

The match at Diósgyőr (a historical town in Hungary) attracted the largest crowd of 2,255, with strict social distancing measures in place. Social distancing means the club’s stadium – which can accommodate 15,000 fans – had to be less than 20 per cent full for the match against association football club Mezőkövesd which was held last Saturday.

Tickets for the DVTK game was required to be purchased online after going on sale last Friday, one day before the game was scheduled to kick off. The prices were the same and fans were warned that “not everyone can support from their usual place”.

DVTK Stadion is a multipurpose stadium in Miskolc, Hungary. It is the playing field of the local football association and it is the home of Diósgyőri VTK.

DVTK informed fans that stands and restrooms were totally disinfected and handed out a list of measures which supporters had to follow whilst in the stadium, including asking non-ticket holders to stay away from the venue as there would be no fan zone.

For the match held last Sunday between Budapest Honved, who won 3-1, and Debrecen, the official attendance was 700, although media reports stated that the figure was less – near about 400. The game was only admitting Honved season-ticket holders and traveling Debrecen fans to Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion which can sit 5,322 spectators, which usually welcomes between 1,500 and 3,000 spectators to league games.

The first match with fans took place on Friday as bottom-of-the-heap Kaposvar lost 6-0 to ZTE in front of 500 fans at the 7,000-capacity Rákóczi Stadion.

League leaders Ferencvaros drew 1-1 with Puskás on Sunday in front of a crowd of 600 people at the 3,816-capacity Puskás Akadémia Pancho Aréna. Feremcvaros is otherwise used to drawing home crowds of around 10,000 fans.

The country’s first division campaign resumed on May 23 behind closed doors, before allowing fans back in last weekend. The 2019-20 Nemzeti Bajnokság campaign was initially suspended due to the global health crisis which broke out due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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