Romain Ducret, a 17-year-old supporter of French club Paris St Germain, clutched in his hand a document that soccer fans all over Europe dream of having: a ticket to watch a top-flight soccer game in the flesh.
Ducret, and his friend and fellow fan, Lucas Pose, were waiting outside the club’s stadium in western Paris on Friday for a friendly match between PSG and Belgian side Waasland-Beveren.
They were among the 5,000 fans given special dispensation — despite the COVID-19 epidemic — to attend.
“I’ve missed this like crazy. It’s going to be so great,” Ducret, his face covered by a surgical mask, said as he waited for kick-off.
Top-flight teams in Europe’s biggest soccer leagues, in Germany, Spain, and England, are playing to empty stands with no fans allowed inside. Die-hard supporters have to make do with watching on television or over the Internet.
In France, the regular top-flight season has already been cancelled because of the pandemic.
Still, some friendlies are going ahead, and a limited number of fans are being allowed in since the French government relaxed restrictions on public gatherings.
The 5,000 fans at Friday night’s game are a long way from the 48,000 capacity of the Parc des Princes stadium.
But Pose, who like his friend Ducret was dressed in a PSG replica shirt, felt even a small number of supporters would spice up the atmosphere of the match.
“Abroad, with Barca, with Real (Madrid), we see the league without fans,” said the 17-year-old, referring to two of Spain’s top sides. “It just doesn’t have the same flavour. But here, we’ll have football again.”