The Chinese Super League (CSL) has opened its doors to a limited number of fans for the first time since the beginning of coronavirus pandemic.
Title rivals Shanghai SIPG and Beijing Guoan were the hosts for the first sets of fans to experience live football in China since the world shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, allowing 2,000 attendees between the two clubs.
The newly formatted league has seen the 16 teams be split into two groups and playing only in the neutral venues of Suzhou and Dalian.
The allowance of fans into the stadium was not without strict rules being applied first. Spectators had to sit one metre apart as part of the country’s social distancing measures, face masks had to be worn alongside temperature checks, ID cards had to be shown as well as a green health code on their phone. Fans who were not a resident in the host city of Suzhou, had to provide a certificate that proved they had passed a Covid-19 test in the last seven days.
It is anticipated that spectators will continue to be allowed into four more games in the near future, as confirmed by the Chinese Football Association, provided that the measures that have been put in place are successful.
CSL have had to be patient in waiting for the return of football after it was delayed from its scheduled start date of February 22. The 2020 season eventually started on July 25, with all games behind closed doors after earlier attempts to start the league was pushed back as a result of the Chinese governments dissatisfaction at the football authorities plans to bring back the sport safely.
A number of teams in the top three tiers have folded as a result of the complete shutdown of the CSL, with a number of other clubs feeling the financial effects of the pandemic.
Author: Jake Wilkin