“Now it’s for real … we’re back,” Mbappe tweeted before kick-off against Le Havre. The exhibition match in the port city of Normandy was the first meeting in front of fans to present one of the elite European clubs since the start of the epidemic.Only 5,000 people were allowed to enter the 25,000-seat Stade Océane in Le Havre to see the Ligue 2 club face the PSG team, with Neymar and Mbappe in the starting XI.PSG showed little mercy on the pitch with Mauro Icardi and Neymar both scoring twice. This rare sound of real fans bursting under the applause of their team’s score was heard nine times while PSG beat Le Havre 9-0.
The upper floors of the seats were empty. Spectators had to wear face masks to enter the arena, although many then removed them when installed in their seats. Families and friends gathered in groups, but the groups remained separate. The bullets wore masks and gloves. Loudspeakers broadcast calls for social distancing. Photographers in the field were forced to walk with their shoes in disinfectant bins.
PSG players had the words “All united” (All united) and “Thank you” (Thank you) on their kit to show their appreciation for the health workers.
Among the top 5 European leagues, only France lets spectators enter football stadiums. Germany has ended its season without supporters, but the league and clubs plan to play 2020-2021 with fans. The game resumed without fans in Spain, England and Italy.
France stopped its league and never resumed it following its release. The return of fans comes as the death toll in the country this week has surpassed 30,000 and amid growing concern over a possible second wave of infections.
Football matches are accused of helping to accelerate the initial spread of the pandemic across Europe. In Serbia, matches played in front of thousands of supporters despite the pandemic were followed last month by players and the CEO of Red Star Belgrade who tested positive for coronavirus.
The team of 24 players chosen by Parisian coach Thomas Tuchel was preparing after four months of inactivity for its last competitive games of the season. PSG will play the French Cup and League Cup finals later this month and the Champions League quarter-finals in August.