English football fans make Wembley return in League Cup final
It almost felt like old times at Wembley on Sunday as a crowd of 8,000 watched Manchester City beat Tottenham Hotspur in English football’s League Cup final – the biggest attendance at a UK sporting event since the COVID-19 pandemic began more than a year ago.
As part of the British government’s Events Research Programme (ERP), the final was being used as a pilot event to test the safe return of supporters.
And while the 2,000 fans permitted from each club, plus 4,000 local residents, looked a little lost in the vast expanses of the 90,000-seater stadium, the sound of them making their voices heard was an uplifting one.
For more than a year, England’s stadiums have been silent, apart from a brief window late last year when small crowds were allowed before a deadly resurgence of COVID-19.
It has been a dispiriting time for the game, with fans forced to watch at home from their sofas with artificial crowd effects pumped in to create a sense of normality.
But the sound of fans singing their songs at Wembley offered hope of better times ahead as Britain’s vaccine rollout continues to drive down deaths and infections from the virus.
City’s fans were wedged into one corner while Tottenham’s were at the other end. There were also 4,000 local residents and NHS workers at the game.
To get into Wembley, fans had to take a lateral flow coronavirus test at a designated site in the 24 hours before the game and produce proof of a negative result.
They also have to take two PCR tests at home – one before travelling to the match and another five days afterwards…..read more
Source: Al Jazeera