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Madrid set for return of football fans

Fans will return to top-level football in Madrid for the first time in over a year after the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) was granted approval for up to 22,590 spectators to attend the national team’s forthcoming friendly match against Portugal at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano.

Spain takes on Portugal on June 4, with the game scheduled as a warm-up for the rescheduled UEFA Euro 2020.  The Health Ministry of the Community of Madrid has given the green light for up to 30% capacity at the Wanda Metropolitano, which is home to recently crowned LaLiga champion Atlético de Madrid.

It will be the first time that fans will be allowed in the stadium since Atlético played Sevilla in a LaLiga match on March 7, 2020. The June 4 game will come complete with COVID-19 safety regulations such as staggered time slots for the arrival of fans and the mandatory wearing of face masks in the stands.

Madrid was not part of the recent reopening of football stadia, which covered relatively few clubs. Two LaLiga clubs welcomed fans back to their stadiums on May 16, with the Spanish football league calling for more flexibility from the health authorities to allow supporters to attend matches across the country.

Spanish Culture and Sports Minister José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes earlier gave the green light for spectators to attend matches in regions where COVID-19 infection rates are low. Stadiums were limited to open at 30% capacity, or with a maximum of 5,000 fans.

The announcement allowed Villarreal to welcome 5,000 fans for its 4-0 win over Sevilla on May 16, while 3,000 supporters attended Valencia’s 4-1 victory against Eibar.

In other news, Major League Soccer (MLS) club Austin FC has confirmed its new Q2 Stadium will be at full capacity for its opening events. Earlier this month, it was announced that the new 20,500-seat venue would have a U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) game as its opening event.

The first match played at the $260m (£183.7m/€212.5m) privately-financed stadium was due to be Austin FC’s MLS encounter against the San Jose Earthquakes on June 19. However, the USWNT will now take to Q2 Stadium on June 16 for a friendly game against Nigeria.

Austin FC and Austin Public Health (APH) have said the attendance guidelines will remain in place for all events scheduled for Q2 Stadium beyond June, until such time that APH further amends. “The efforts by our community over the past 15 months have led us to a stage where we can once again safely host large events in Austin,” said Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott.

“We still have a final push to reach the imminent goal of herd immunity and ask everyone to get vaccinated before school lets out in June. We want to thank Q2 Stadium for their efforts in promoting the importance of getting fully vaccinated.”

Austin FC sold out its 15,500 season tickets in record time, with the club having a 21,000-strong waiting list.

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