Italian Serie A football stadia will operate at 25% capacity when the 2021-22 season commences, according to Andrea Costa, Undersecretary to the Ministry of Health.

The 2021-22 campaign is due to start on August 22, with Italian domestic football being mainly held behind closed doors since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020. Speaking to Radio Punto Nuovo, Costa said: “We talked about it with Minister (of Health Roberto) Speranza and I can give the news – on August 22 the season will start with the 25% of the public in attendance.

“In the following weeks there will be a gradual progression and percentage increase. We need prudence and a sense of responsibility, things that Italian citizens have never lacked.”

The Italian Government officially closed football stadia to fans on March 4, 2020. A partial reopening was set for the month of October, when a maximum of 1,000 fans were permitted entry to grounds. However, this only lasted through to October 25 when stadia were shut again.

Italian football has begun to see another reopening of stadia in recent weeks. Inter Milan was last month granted permission to have spectators in the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza for its crowning as the new Serie A champion on May 23.

For the final home game of the season against Udinese, 1,000 spectators were permitted entry, but these people were considered guests of Inter, such as club employees, sponsors and families of the players.

Authorities also granted permission for the 2021 Coppa Italia final to have fans in attendance. The game on May 19, which saw Juventus defeat Atalanta 2-1, was held at Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia, home to Serie A club Sassuolo.

Mapei Stadium has a capacity of 21,000 and the government approved attendance for the Coppa Italia final at 20%, roughly equating to 4,300 fans.

In April, Rome confirmed it would be able to host the opening ceremony and first match of UEFA Euro 2020 after Italian authorities agreed to a plan that would allow at least 18,000 fans to attend games at the Stadio Olimpico.

Top 14

The French Government has granted the National Rugby League (LNR) an exemption to stage Friday’s Top 14 final with an enhanced crowd of 14,000 at the Stade de France in Paris.

Toulouse is due to face La Rochelle in the finale to the 2020-21 season of the top division of French rugby. The capacity of the Stade de France for the game had been due to be limited to 5,000 under the reopening plan outlined by the Government at the end of April.

However, this limit has nearly trebled after an appeal made by the LNR, with the Government citing the status of the event, the favourable evolution of the COVID-19 situation in France, the proximity of the game to the June 30 date when the majority of restrictions are due to be lifted, and the capability of the Stade de France to be able to manage an increased capacity from a stadium operations perspective.

The decision is set to mean the two clubs will be granted an additional 2,500 tickets apiece for the final. The LNR said in a statement: “Thanks to this good news, the two finalist clubs will be able to benefit from extra places for their supporters.

“In addition, people whose tickets had been cancelled will be contacted and will have priority access to these new tickets. The LNR would like to thank the Government for the confidence granted which will allow thousands of rugby lovers and supporters of Stade Toulousain and Stade Rochelais to experience this grand finale.”

Scotland

A minimum of 2,000 fans will be permitted entry to football matches in Scotland from July 19, according to a revised roadmap for COVID-19 reopening announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The timeline is subject to the whole country moving to level zero restrictions, as is planned for July 19. If this takes place, seated outdoor stadiums would be able to host 2,000 fans, and standing venues could welcome 1,000.

The new guidelines mean that the 2021-22 Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) season should be able to commence at the end of July with fans in grounds. Individual cases will be assessed for capacities beyond these guidelines, as was the case for Hampden Park’s staging of Euro 2020 games.

Sturgeon said: “From July 19, and then more substantially, from August 9 – assuming we are meeting our revised strategic aim of alleviating the harm of the virus – life should feel much less restricted for all of us.”

Image: Vincenzo.togni/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size