Dutch Eredivisie football club SC Heerenveen filled its empty stadium with 15,000 teddy bears on Saturday to raise money for KiKa, a child cancer research charity.

The club announced the initiative on Friday ahead of Saturday’s match against FC Emmen, which was held behind closed doors due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Heerenveen partnered with KiKa and pharmaceuticals company MSD to encourage fans to purchase a teddy bear and raise awareness of children with cancer in the Netherlands.

MSD has been a partner of KiKa for the past 15 years and the initiative was designed to raise money for the charity to support its research practices. Heerenveen fans responded in their droves, with all 15,000 KiKa bears selling out within 24 hours, raising more than €230,000 (£209,000/$272,000).

Fans who were unable to purchase a bear to be placed at Abe Lenstra Stadion on Saturday can still support the campaign by placing an order. All the bears were kitted out in Heerenveen shirts for the match, which the home team won 4-0.

The Eredivisie restarted last month with a limited number of fans in attendance but Saturday’s match between Heerenveen and FC Emmen went ahead without spectators following a change in COVID-19 guidelines.

Image: KiKa