The Ministry of Sports intends to allow football fans; who have ‘immune’ status on their Tawakkalna application to enter stadiums in the new season. However; the ministry is undecided over the number of fans to enter stadiums at a time.
Authorities in Kingdom started allowing vaccinated fans to attend sporting events at stadiums at a capacity of 40 percent effective from May 17. Vaccinated fans to attend an Asia World Cup qualifiers between Saudi Arabia and Palestinian in Riyadh in March this year.
According to well-informed sources; the return of the fans to the stadiums would be a big economic relief for sports clubs that have lost their customers due to the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic since March 2020 with fans returning for the last two rounds of the last edition of the Saudi Professional League tournaments in a limited number as specified by the Ministry of Sports.
The return of the fans to the stadiums also represents a positive incentive in the technical aspect; the lack of which has taken a toll on some teams and players not only at the local level but at the global level too.
Return of fans
England has announced the return of normal life and the easing of coronavirus restrictions; starting from July 19; with fixing the number of gatherings in indoor and open spaces; as this step means the return of fans to sports stadiums with the start of the English Premier League from Aug.13.
In mid-May; Saudi football stadiums witnessed the return of fans to the pavilions at 40 percent of their capacity after a long absence from attendance due to the repercussions of the coronavirus; which prompted the Ministry of Sports to issue a decision to suspend the entry of fans since March 7; 2020.
Life has returned to the football stadiums; which remained silent and empty except for team players; coaches and a limited number of club officials. Before the pandemic; the stadium stands used to be packed with thousands of football fans across the Kingdom. Despite the specified proportions of the stadiums’ capacity of 40 percent; tickets finished as soon as they were offered on the Saudi Tickets online platform and the platforms of companies marketing the clubs.
The return of fans to the stadiums began since the coronavirus crisis when the Saudi national team met with its Palestinian counterpart in the Asian qualifiers for the Asian Cup 2023 and the 2022 World Cup; which was at the Mrsool Park Stadium of King Saud University in the capital city of Riyadh in March 2021.
The Ministry of Sports had issued protocols for the entry of masses to stadiums and sports facilities during the last season of the Saudi Professional League; which included a number of important precautionary measures; such as maintaining physical distancing and wearing masks; in addition to the mechanism for entering the masses; preventing gatherings inside the stands or at internal and external doors; and other instructions that are mandatory. This is also with the condition that the concerned authorities have to follow up the implementation of this; and also take the necessary measures in the event that any violations are detected.
The protocol specified the vaccinated categories that would be allowed to attend sports matches; according to what appears in the Tawakkalna application; and they include those immune by two doses or one dose of vaccine or those who recovered from infection within less than six months.