June 3, 2020 / 11:24 AM / a month ago

Soccer fans won't return to Spanish stadiums for now - junior sports minister

MADRID (Reuters) - Fans will not be able to attend Spanish soccer matches when the season resumes after being disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic on June 10 for sporting reasons rather than safety concerns, junior sports minister Irene Lozano has said.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - FC Barcelona v Real Sociedad - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - March 7, 2020 General view inside the stadium before the match REUTERS/Albert Gea/File Photo

The health ministry is examining the risks of fans attending matches in regions where there was a low risk of infection after Las Palmas president Miguel Angel Ramirez said he hoped spectators could attend his side’s matches in the Canary Islands where the virus is less prevalent.

But Lozano said that would create an unfair advantage as some teams would be backed by supporters while others in regions with a higher risk of infection would have to play their home matches without spectators.

“Right now it’s impossible to have fans in the stadiums for sporting reasons. The agreement we reached with La Liga was to restart the campaign behind closed doors,” Lozano told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser on Wednesday.

“We have to respect the integrity of the competition, La Liga is a national competition and we made a big effort to ensure teams trained in the same conditions.

“Until all provinces are in the same phase of de-escalation it’s impossible to have matches with crowds.”

Lozano did leave the door open to supporters returning once Spain’s state of emergency, which the government is seeking to extend until June 21, is over.

But she also appeared to criticise Ramirez for re-opening the debate.

“It’s important to not cause confusion. The agreement we made with La Liga was to re-start the season behind closed doors. If in exceptional circumstances we could go down a different path, then we will look into it,” she added.

“The president of Las Palmas spoke about this on his own volition. A competition is a collaboration between many people and it’s vital that everyone works together. If everyone starts inventing new ideas and rules then the product is not good.”

Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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