For the first time since the coronavirus shut down sports and chased away spectators, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and other stars will be back in front of thousands of fans chanting their praises Sunday.
An exhibition match Sunday evening between Paris Saint-Germain's star-studded squad and French League 2 team Le Havre will be the first encounter in front of fans to feature one of Europe's elite clubs since the outbreak erupted.
“Now it's for real … we're back,” Mbappe tweeted before the kickoff of Paris Saint-Germain against Le Havre, an exhibition match that was the first encounter in front of fans to feature one of Europes elite clubs since the outbreak erupted.
Only 5,000 people were allowed inside Le Havre's 25,000-seat Stade Oceane to see the French League 2 club take on PSG's star-studded squad. Upper tiers of seating were empty.
Spectators had to wear face masks to get into the arena, although many then took them off once settled in their seats. Families and friends sat together in groups but groups stayed separated. Ball carriers wore masks and gloves. Loudspeakers broadcast appeals for social distancing. Pitch-side photographers were made to step with their shoes into trays of disinfectant.
PSG said its players would have the words “Tous unis" (All united) and “Merci” (Thank you) on their kit to show appreciation for health workers.
Among Europe's top 5 leagues, only France is letting spectators back into soccer stadiums. Germany finished its season without fans but the league and clubs are exploring plans to play 2020-21 with fans. Play has resumed without fans in Spain, England and Italy.