Even as Coronavirus Surges, Hungary Plans Super Cup Soccer Game

BUDAPEST — A showdown between two top European clubs, Bayern Munich and Sevilla, in a high-profile soccer match is expected to be played as scheduled in front of thousands of fans in Budapest on Thursday night despite a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in Hungary. The match, for the UEFA […]

BUDAPEST — A showdown between two top European clubs, Bayern Munich and Sevilla, in a high-profile soccer match is expected to be played as scheduled in front of thousands of fans in Budapest on Thursday night despite a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in Hungary.

The match, for the UEFA Super Cup, will be played at Puskas Stadium, and the organizers say that a maximum of 20,000 people will be admitted, a third of the arena’s capacity, as part of a range of virus-prevention measures.

“We worked really hard with the authorities here to try and make the circumstances align so that it’s safe for people to attend,” said Philip Townsend, communications director for UEFA, European soccer’s governing body.

Hungary is currently experiencing a surge in recorded coronavirus cases that is significantly higher than the numbers seen when Covid-19 entered Hungary earlier this year.

Of the remaining tickets, it is estimated that 90 percent have been sold to Hungarian fans. UEFA and the Hungarian Football Federation announced this month that it would give employees of the Hungarian national ambulance service 500 tickets.

The temperature of fans will be taken at the gates. Social-distancing rules are encouraged for those arriving at and departing from the stadium. Mask-wearing will be compulsory throughout the stadium, but is only “strongly advised” for fans in their seats, with one and a half meters mandated between fans not paired together.

Social distancing is also compulsory at concession stands, and even the men’s restrooms have been reorganized to provide more distance between fans.

“Organizers placed an extraordinary amount of hand sanitizing equipment throughout the Puskas Stadium,” Mr. Jeno said.

However, some fans complain of a lack of coherent guidelines for those attempting to enter Hungary from abroad.

Ronan Evain, executive director of Football Supporters Europe, an association of soccer fans that claims to have members in 48 European countries, said that the Hungarian Embassy in Paris had been unable to answer questions regarding entry requirements into the country just days before the match.

“It was harder to leave my home country than it was to enter Hungary,” he says, citing what he described as confusion over entry requirements and misunderstandings at the airport in France, where authorities seemed unaware of the special arrangements made for travelers to the match.

Upon entering Hungary, he said, he was asked to provide the results of his coronavirus test, which the authorities did not seem to notice was issued in French, and he was not asked where he would stay and when he would be leaving.

Mr. Evain’s quest to attend the Super Cup involved “a lot of improvisation and uncertainty,” and he was frustrated that adequate information about health and safety protocols were not communicated to fans. “Anything you publish has to be crystal clear, and that definitely has not been the case for this game.”

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