Fans return to professional football and basketball games again in Catalonia
Girona FC welcomed 1,500 supporters at their first promotion playoff game, while Joventut will allow 1,000 for their ACB quarter-final against Barça
The stadium of Girona, a city in the northeast of Catalonia, was the first one in the country to allow fans for a professional football match in a year and three months on Wednesday.
The city’s team, Girona FC, played their first game of the playoffs to be promoted to the Spanish football first tier, and its supporters contributed to a brilliant win by 3-0 against Almería FC.
Only 1,500 fans were allowed in, and they had a hard time securing their seats.
Spain’s Superior Sports Board (CSD) decided to allow the public back into sports arenas for playoff games in professional football and basketball on Wednesday afternoon in areas including Catalonia. Authorities allow 1,500 people for football and 1,000 for basketball arenas. They had already allowed it for areas with lower Covid-19 risk.
The fixture between Girona and Almería was scheduled for the very same Wednesday evening, so the club decided to allow fans into the Montilivi stadium at the eleventh hour for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Shortly after the decision was announced by CSD, the official ticket-purchasing apps and websites of Girona FC were overwhelmed by a wave of requests.
A tweet by the club commenting on the decision read: "The CSD has just announced that up to 1,500 fans can enter Montilivi. Despite the short notice, we welcome you to come to the stadium."
Professional basketball also welcomes fans
The ticket-purchasing website was down amid huge numbers trying to buy tickets, something that also happened later that night, from 10 pm, on Joventut Badalona’s website.
The basketball team based in the Barcelona metropolitan city was the second in Catalonia to make the most of the CSD decision, and will welcome 1,000 supporters for its ACB league play-off quarter-finals match against FC Barcelona on Thursday.
Whether Girona and Badalona host more matches with fans before the season ends depends on their results: the former will play the second leg of the play-off at Almeria on Saturday at 9 pm. If they succeed, they will play a two-legged final against the winner of the other play-off semi-final between Leganés and Rayo Vallecano.
As for Joventut, they are 1-0 down in their best-of-three series, so their season will be over if they lose on Thursday, and should they win, they will have a final deciding match on Saturday at 6.30 at Barça’s Palau Blaugrana.
FC Barcelona have not revealed whether they would allow fans for the potential third match, but one of the Catalan teams will be through the semi-finals regardless and have the chance to welcome up to 1,000 supporters.