The 2021 Chinese Super League (CSL) football season has commenced with a crowd of around 30,000 watching the opening game between Guangzhou FC and Guangzhou City.

Amid COVID-19 restrictions, the new CSL season is being hosted in Guangzhou and Suzhou, with the first stage running through to May 17.

Tianhe Stadium (pictured), the home of Guangzhou FC, was the host of the season-opener yesterday (Tuesday) with the local derby ending in a 2-2 draw at the 54,856-capacity venue.

After being at the centre of the original COVID-19 outbreak, China now has the virus largely under control. After the 2020 CSL season eventually commenced in July behind closed doors, fans were gradually permitted entry back to stadia by the end of the campaign.

As well as utilising two host cities, the 2021 CSL season has its 16 teams based in hotels and kept away from the public.

Yesterday’s opening ceremony also saw the spectacle of the CSL trophy being delivered into Tianhe Stadium by a large drone. Tradition usually dictates that the trophy is handed over by the reigning champion, but this was not possible due to the financial collapse of Jiangsu FC earlier this year.

Image: PQ77wd/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size