Estádio do Dragão, Porto. Photo: FC Porto

Portugal’s football stadiums finally re-open to fans

Portugal’s football stadiums are finally opening up to fans again almost a year-and-a-half after the outbreak of Covid-19 in Portugal forced a break in national (and international) football and prevented fans from attending matches when play was resumed.

Apart from a few exceptions, football matches in Portugal have been mostly played ‘behind closed doors’ with only club and league officials and staff allowed to attend.

This changed last weekend when Sporting CP and Sporting Braga faced each other for the Portuguese Super Cup at Aveiro’s municipal stadium, which was allowed to welcome 33% of its total capacity.

This will be the limit for Portugal’s Primeira Liga matches as well, with Sporting due to welcome Vizela at Estádio José Alvalade tonight at 8.15pm for the league’s inaugural match.

Fans wishing to attend matches will have to present one of the following: a Digital Covid-19 Certificate, a vaccination certificate, a negative PCR test carried out within the last 72 hours, a negative antigen test carried out within the last 48 hours, or a certificate of recovery, league director Sónia Carneiro told Rádio Renascença.

Clubs can also opt to set up quick test units at the stadium, but that will be up to each club to decide, Carneiro added.

Social distancing will also be “guaranteed,” she said, as fans will have a distance of at least two empty seats between each other.

Said Carneiro, hopes are that the maximum capacity for football stadiums can soon be increased to 66%.

“But for now, we are happy with what we were given. We have to look at the glass half full,” she said.

The only league match that went ahead with fans in the stands since the start of the pandemic happened last season when Azores club Santa Clara was allowed to welcome 1,000 fans for its match-up against Gil Vicente.

The match was viewed as a test, but authorities quickly back-tracked and did not allow fans at any further matches that season.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com