French football appears to be full of innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic era. The French Ligue 1 was the only football league in continental Europe to completely stop playing after the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. This was a controversial decision, as the message sent by this decision was deeply pessimistic about the future of football during the pandemic and is still discussed in worldwide athletic fora.
This time the French decided to go one step further and send an absolutely optimistic message on the occasion of the Coupe de France final game between Paris Saint Gemain and AS Saint Etienne. The final match, held as usual in Paris “Stade de France” (the national stadium) took place last night with more than 5.000 fans on the stands. This is the first game in Western Europe where fans were allowed to watch live, even with a lot of restrictions.
As the “Stade de France” capacity exceeds 80.000, the crowd of only 5.000 fans seems too low, but the limit has been put there for their own safety. Every fan was to be seated in specific place and having more than 2,5 meters distance away of other person. Placing the number of tickets to this extremely low limit has been hailed as “first step to normality” from the French Football Federation (FFF). There’s no matter of noise rather than symbolism: No virus can keep fans out of watching their favorite sport.
Of course, there are some who have different opinion. AS Saint Etienne fan clubs have notified in time the FFF that they won’t travel to Paris for the final, so the tickets reserved for them could be easily sold to PSG or neutral fans. This is not a matter of safety, though, but exactly the opposite: The board of “Les Verts” stated that the number of tickets is too low and the whole procedure appears to humiliate fans of both teams. As they described, fans could not just sit and watch the game without moving, chanting, hailing or even cursing, this is part of the football culture. As they’re not allowed to act as they want, they wouldn’t be part of this spectacle.
Apart from it, the message was clear: With this gesture the FFF appears to regret the previous decision of stopping the league matches indefinitely. France was struck less than other football leading countries (such as the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy), but there the ball continued to roll and the winner of the league was declared into the pitch, not during a discussion in a bureau. After this, we should wait more risky decisions from the Ligue 1 next year. Why not allowing small groups of fans attending league matches?Follow us on