French fans return to stadia as 5,000 watch Le Havre lose 9-0 to PSG

July 13 – Those who bemoaned the premature ending of the French season will be even more frustrated by the fact that elite friendlies were allowed to return over the weekend – just at the time paradoxically when other European leagues are nearing the end of their domestic campaigns behind closed doors.

In line with the regulations, a maximum 5,000 spectators were allowed inside Le Havre’s 25,000-seat Stade Oceane to see the French League 2 club take on PSG, with Neymar and Mbappe both in the visitors’ starting XI.

The Normandy encounter was the first  in front of fans since Covid-1 prompted the government to abandon live sport.

Spectators had to wear face masks to get into the arena, although many then took them off once settled into their seats while there were continual broadcast appeals for social distancing. PSG showed little mercy on the field with Mauro Icardi and Neymar both scoring twice in a 9-0 rout.

Among Europe’s top five leagues, only France is letting spectators back into stadiums, a supreme irony given the country is the only one to ban competitive games. The return of fans comes as France’s death toll from Covid surpassed 30,000 and amid growing concerns of a possible second wave of infections.

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