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UEFA Super Cup to welcome fans as Dolphins eye 13,000 for NFL opener

Next month’s UEFA Super Cup match between Bayern Munich and Sevilla at Budapest’s Puskás Aréna will be held with a 30-per-cent capacity crowd, it has been confirmed today.

The new Puskás Aréna (pictured), which opened last year, has a capacity of 67,000, meaning that around 20,100 fans will be able to attend the match on September 24.

UEFA’s Executive Committee has decided to allow a limited number of fans at the match as it studies the impact of spectators on the UEFA Return to Play Protocol. All other UEFA matches will continue to be played behind closed doors until further notice.

UEFA announced last week that it was considering allowing fans at the match and the decision has now been confirmed.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: “While it has been important to show that football can carry on in difficult times, without fans, the game has lost something of its character. We hope to use the UEFA Super Cup in Budapest as a pilot that will begin to see the return of fans to our matches.

“We are working closely with the Hungarian Federation and its government to implement measures to ensure the health of all those attending and participating in the game. We will not take risks with people’s safety.”

In other news, the Miami Dolphins NFL American football team has announced that a maximum of 13,000 fans will be allowed at its first regular-season game at Hard Rock Stadium.

The Dolphins are due to host the Buffalo Bills at the 80,000-seat Hard Rock Stadium on September 20 and the team has detailed a number of policies to ensure the game can go ahead safely amid COVID-19.

Fans will sit in socially distanced clusters at Hard Rock Stadium, with all supporters and stadium employees to wear a mask when not actively eating or drinking. Touchless entry systems will also be in operation, with staggered gate entries to reduce bottlenecks before and after the game.

Fans will go through a touchless security scan upon entry to the stadium, while food, beverage, parking and retail will become cashless with the support of in-app mobile and credit card payment options. The stadium has also received a GBAC Star accreditation from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council.

Season tickets will be given first priority to purchase tickets for the Bills game based on their tenure.

Dolphins vice-chairman and chief executive Tom Garfinkel said: “When we started the process back in March of exploring what a socially-distanced stadium could look like, we made the health and safety of everyone the first priority; knowing that if we felt that we couldn’t make it safe, we simply wouldn’t have fans.

“We’re happy that our elected officials recognise the attention to detail and diligence that we’ve put into creating a safe environment and that they made the decision to move forward with a 13,000-capacity stadium at this time.”

Fellow NFL team the Baltimore Ravens has also announced that it will not welcome fans at M&T Bank Stadium for “at least the initial part” of the 2020 season after consulting with government officials and public health experts.

The Ravens had been working with local officials to discuss how the stadium could host 7,500 fans but the team has ultimately decided that playing games with spectators would not be in the best interest of the general public and the franchise.

In England, Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion is reportedly set to host a pilot event for the return of football fans with an upcoming friendly match.

The Times reported that the match could be held as early as this weekend, with a government announcement set to confirm that 2,500 spectators will be allowed into the Amex Stadium.

The report added that Women’s Super League fixtures are also being considered for fan pilot events, as are the finals of the FA Trophy and FA Vase next month. The FA Trophy and FA Vase finals will be held at Wembley and The Times reported that as many as 10,000 fans may be allowed in for the matches.

In other news, the Kentucky Derby horse-racing event will not be held with fans after all amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in Louisville.

Earlier this month, Churchill Downs Racetrack outlined plans for the event to go ahead with a 23,000 attendance cap, or the equivalent of 14 per cent of the record crowd of 170,513 in 2015. Churchill Downs officials released a 62-page health and safety operations plan to limit the capacity, with standing room only and ‘walk around’ tickets having been eliminated.

However, organisers have now announced that running the Derby on September 5 without fans is the “best way” to protect the health and safety of the community.

Andy Beshear, Governor of Kentucky, said: “The virus is still aggressively spreading in Kentucky, and the White House has announced that Jefferson County and the City of Louisville are in a ‘red zone’ based on increases in cases. This week alone the county had more than 2,300 new cases.

“I applaud Churchill Downs for continuing to monitor the virus and for making the right and responsible decision. I am asking all Kentuckians to take action to stop the spread of the virus so we can get back to the many traditions we enjoy, like the Kentucky Derby.”

Image: Hungarian Football Association