Spain’s top football league La Liga is unlikely to feature fans inside stadium for the remainder of the 2019-’20 season but that could change when the next season starts on September 12, the league’s India division Managing Director Jose Antonio Cachaza has said.
La Liga is set to return on June 11 after a three-month hiatus. The league was suspended on March 12 in Spain due to the coronavirus outbreak. The season will resume with the match between Sevilla FC and Real Betis, known as El Gran Derbi, which is the first of the 110 matches remaining to be played this season.
Barcelona lead by two points at the top of the table with Real Madrid placed second.
Although games are set to be played behind closed doors now, La Liga president Javier Tebas on Sunday had said he hoped to have fans back in the stadium at some point during the 2019-’20 season, according to COPE, as reported by Diario AS.
However, when asked about the possibility of fans featuring in stadiums, Cachaza offered a different view.
“First of all, the whole country has to be in the same situation,” he said during a video conference call on Monday.
“Right now, some regions allow more movements than others. The conditions have to be uniform in every stadium. I can’t give you an answer – maybe it can be July but most likely the fans can enter stadiums next season. It will depend on the health authorities.”
Cachaza said the situation is one that is likely to constantly evolve.
“As Javier Tebas had said, the plan is to be back for next season on 12 September. I don’t think anybody can tell about the safety protocols in September because things will keep evolving. It’s not just Tebas and the 300-odd workers of La Liga but the Spanish football federation, La Liga and clubs working together along with the government and health authorities.
“Worst case scenario, we will have to start the league without public and and I hope not. Quite probably in September, some fans will be allowed inside the stadium but it will not be full. It’s very difficult [to say].”
As La Liga returns this week, the league will use virtual images in broadcasts with piped-in crowd noise. While the artificial crowd noise was first heard during few matches in the German Bundesliga, which was the first major football league to return in May, the move wasn’t backed by all fans.
However, Cachaza believed it will enrich the fan’s viewing experience.
“This is an expression of our overall strategy of being different,” he stated. “We want to be the best league of the world on the pitch but also in the market. We want to be the first in the market and want to work differently, and this [move] is an expression of that. We want to offer fans the alternative, different experiences and ways to live the game as we are living in a different time.”
No sanctions for #BlackLivesMatter protests
Cachaza further said that La Liga players who could show solidarity on the pitch for the #BlackLivesMatter movement were unlikely to be sanctioned.
Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho and other Bundesliga players staged anti-racism protests during games but were not punished by the German Football Federation for their gesture. Sancho was initially booked after for taking off his jersey, revealing an undershirt which had ‘Justice For George Floyd’ written on it. The DFB later withdrew the booking after review.
Fifa, which doesn’t allow players to express their personal views relating to politics, religion and other social issues on the pitch, earlier advised leagues to handle such incidents with “common sense”.
Earlier, Premier League side Liverpool also took a knee during a training session to show solidarity to the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
“Football is about integration, friendship and a union,” Cachaza said.
“What happened in Bundesliga, the players were booked by the referees and Fifa later said those who are booked shouldn’t be punished. La Liga doesn’t sanction players. It comes from referees and football associations. Fifa said publicly we need to understand those situations and we will go by what Fifa said. But we will always be in support of equality and non-discrimination,” he added.
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