By Andrew Warshaw
September 24 – With just hours to go before kick-off at tonight’s showpiece Super Cup fixture between Bayern Munich and Sevilla in Budapest, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin launched a strong defence of the decision to allow fans into the game despite the worry of Covid-19, saying his organisation wasn’t doing it for political reasons or badly needed revenues, only for the good of football.
The 67,000-capacity Puskas Arena is permitting 15,000-16,000 fans to attend with strict hygiene measures in place – the first major European match to feature fans since the coronavirus crisis forced games to be played behind closed doors.
Opposition parties in Hungary have criticised the ruling but following a UEFA executive committee in the Hungarian capital, Ceferin insisted UEFA had done the right thing.
At a press conference lasting under 10 minutes, which must be some kind of record, Ceferin told reporters: “Look, we will have 16,000 spectators which is not even 30%. The measures are strict and there is no question of (taking) health risks.”
“We will not allow anyone to drag us into politics or any political discussion. The easiest thing for us would be not to do anything. Because if you don’t do anything you don’t make any mistakes and nothing moves.”
“Health is the number one priority but we want to bring hope and do what we think is the proper thing to do.”
Further justifying the move, as if he knew he would be questioned on the issue, Ceferin reeled off a long list of every country in Europe that had eased restrictions.
“In nine countries, there is a fixed number of spectators at every match. You have from 1,000 to 10,000 spectators in Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Austria, France and Belgium.”
“You have a percentage of capacity in Germany, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Croatia, Moldova , Netherlands, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Poland and Switzerland. You have regional application in Russia and Ukraine.”
“Don’t think we are doing this because of money …but fans and players are the essential part of football.”
Contact the writer of this story at email@example.com