Belgium reopens stadia for fans with full round of fixtures

By Samindra Kunti

September 14 – Belgian football fans returned to stadiums this weekend for the first since the Covid-19 pandemic began and following specific protocols that were approved by local authorities.

Defending champions Club Brugge welcomed 9,000 fans at the Jan Breydel Station for their dominant 4-1 win over Waasland-Beveren. KV Mechelen hosted 5,200 season ticket holders, only to lose 0-1 to KV Oostende following a major miss from Aster Vranckx that went viral on social media. In Leuven, 2,000 fans returned to watch the Thai-owned club win 1-0 against the previously undefeated visitors Standard Liege.

Across Belgium, supporters were allowed to attend matches in the 1A and 1B  leagues, the two professional tiers in the domestic pyramid. Fans have been shut out since March, but returned amid health and safety measures which included different arrival and departure times, disinfectant, masks, social distancing, bubbles, limited concessions and alcohol-free beer. Traveling fans were not allowed.

Each club in the 1A and 1B divisions had to present a protocol on the basis of its infrastructure and organizational capacities, aligned at the same time with the Pro League’s general protocol of the Pro League. The protocol also required consultation with local authorities and a positive review from health experts before approval by the sports minister.

In Belgium, public outdoor events remain limited to 400 people, but the football industry has been exempted from the restriction. On Monday, Saudi-owned Beerschot host Racing Genk with a maximum of 3,200 fans allowed at their ground. Next week, Standard Liege intend to host 10,000 fans at their 30,000 capacity stadium.

Numbers allowed for match day 5:

Anderlecht: 6000 – capacity Lotto Park: 21,500

OH Leuven : 2000 – capacity King Power at Den Dreef: 10,020

KAS Eupen: 1600 – capacity  Kehrwegstadion: 8,363

KV Mechelen: 5200 – capacity AFAS Stadion: 16,672

Club Brugge: 9200 – capacity Jan Breydel: 29,042

Zulte Waregem: 5000 – capacity Regenboogstadion: 14,600.

KV Kortrijk: 2.980 –  capacity Guldensporenstadion: 9,399.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1600630558labto1600630558ofdlr1600630558owedi1600630558sni@o1600630558fni1600630558