Sports

PSG-Dortmund will be played behind closed doors in the face of the coronavirus epidemic

The chopper eventually fell. The Champions League second knockout round between Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund, scheduled for Wednesday, will be held behind closed doors. The decision, feared since the transition to stage 2 in the plan to fight the epidemic of Covid-19, was taken this Monday morning by the Paris police headquarters, while an exceptional meeting is being held at the same time at the ministry of sports. “In application of the measures announced by the defense council last night, the Prefect of Police has decided that the PSG-BVB match will take place behind closed doors”, writes the prefecture on twitter.

From the Paris marathon to the women's VI Nations tournament, including certain Ligue 1 or Jeep Elite matches, French sport no longer has its postponements and cancellations linked to the spread of the new coronavirus. PSG hoped to slip through the cracks of an already very busy net, but it will ultimately have to resign itself. The measures prohibiting the gatherings of more than 5,000 people in confined spaces had previously allowed the club of the capital to maintain the hope of receiving the Germans in a full stadium, but the speech of the Minister of Health Olivier Véran Sunday evening changed the game.

Gatherings of more than 1000 people prohibited

Faced with the rapid progression of the epidemic and the multiplication of clusters on French territory, the government has chosen to toughen its policy of struggle by reducing the threshold for gatherings of more than 1000 people, without specifying whether the places “in the sky open ”were also concerned. “The prefects and the ministries will put together a list of events considered useful for the life of the nation” said the minister, adding that demonstrations, school competitions or the use of public transport would be part of it.

Under these conditions, the holding of the return match between PSG and Dortmund in “normal” arrangements for welcoming supporters seemed unthinkable. While Italy has declared a closed session of its sports events until April 3 and France seems to be heading towards a similar epidemic pattern, it is difficult to see how 47,000 spectators could have gathered at the Park on Wednesday evening. The decision is all the more logical that it comes three days after the postponement of the Ligue 1 match between Strasbourg and PSG, the result of an order from the Bas-Rhin prefecture, the main center of contagion in France.

Olivier Véran, Minister of Health © Ludovic Marin / AFP

Unlike a classic championship match, C1’s encounter with Borussia Dortmund would no doubt have attracted Parisian supporters from seriously affected departments such as the Oise and Morbihan. This context is all the more favorable for the spread of the virus since all metropolitan areas are now affected by Covid-19. PSG has even considered contacting its supporters from the Oise to dissuade them from going to the match, promising a refund of tickets.

The champions of France have also gone out of their way in their ultimately futile endeavor to obtain the final agreement for the reception of their supporters. This weekend, the club brought in the cleaning company which usually works at the Parc des Princes to disinfect the entire stadium. According to information fromTeam, disinfectants have been sprayed all over the place, on seats, doorknobs and even staircases, like what has been done by Chinese authorities in several cities across the country. Measures which unfortunately were not enough to convince the Paris police headquarters, which logically decided to go in camera on Monday morning.

PSG “took note” of this decision without further comment. On the supporters' side, this decision is difficult to digest. “Every year, something happens. Today I have a feeling of inevitability,” Simon told AFP. This 28-year-old fan was to attend the match with his brother, who came from Toulon for the occasion and was “disappointed”. “Today, I am convinced that we will be eliminated. The players will not transcend without an audience.” “They ruined the party !,” explains James, a loyal subscriber to the Park. There is total incomprehension. In Paris, the metro, department stores, museums … are not closed. We have the right to explanations. ” The Collectif ultras Paris (CUP), the main group of supporters, has already planned before the match a regrouping around the stadium so that “the players can hear us from outside.”

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