CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

Soccer and basketball fans to return to Spanish stadiums next season

Government approves measure that will relieve clubs’ financial situation following coronavirus restrictions that led to closed-door matches

Spanish fans at the Spain-Slovakia Euro 2020 match in Seville on Wednesday.
Spanish fans at the Spain-Slovakia Euro 2020 match in Seville on Wednesday.Reuters

Soccer and basketball fans will be able to return to Spanish stadiums when the new season begins after the summer, according to statements by Health Minister Carolina Darias following an extraordinary Cabinet meeting on Thursday.

The announcement means that clubs will have renewed access to a major source of income that dried up after the coronavirus pandemic led to closed-door matches in empty stadiums.

The decision is part of a decree approved by the Cabinet, which also greenlighted new rules on face masks that will allow people to go unmasked outdoors provided a safe distance is observed between people from different households.

Deprived of their earnings from ticket sales, clubs were forced to reduce spending – including salary cuts for players and technicians – but many still struggled to stay afloat. The impact was lower on the more modest clubs, where a larger share of earnings come from broadcasting revenue.

At the Copa del Rey competition, which includes second division teams, fans were allowed into some stadiums in regions of Spain that allowed it. The same happened in some women’s soccer and basketball matches.

In May, health authorities allowed up to 5,000 fans in professional soccer and basketball qualifiers. In practice, there were around 1,500 people at some of these matches. Meanwhile, La Liga tried to get fans back for the final games of the last season, and stadiums such as Cerámica, Martínez Valero and Ciutat de Valencia opened at 30% capacity.

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