Sports fans set to fill 2/3 of stadium seats in Switzerland

BERN, Switzerland (AP) — Soccer and ice hockey clubs in Switzerland can have stadiums two-thirds full, starting in October, after a federal decision on Wednesday.

The Swiss government said spectators would need to wear face masks and have allocated seats. No fans of away teams will be allowed and contact tracing plans must be in place.

Lawmakers announced details as part of the latest easing of limits on mass gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic which were imposed in February.

From Oct. 1, the 1,000-person maximum for sports and other events can be lifted with approval by public authorities at canton (state) level.

Swiss sports officials have warned some clubs face bankruptcy without being able to increase their match-day revenue from sales of tickets, food and fan merchandise.

One of the first events to benefit should be Switzerland’s soccer team hosting 2018 World Cup finalist Croatia on Oct. 7. The 17,000-capacity stadium at St. Gallen could have more than 11,000 fans for the game.

Under the new guidance, soccer clubs Young Boys and Basel could sell more than 20,000 tickets for games.

The Swiss soccer league shut down in February, resumed in June and finished its season in August. The new season starts later this month with two rounds scheduled before the crowd limits can be eased.

The Swiss hockey league canceled last season in March and delayed starting the new season until October in hope of a favorable federal decision.

The economic situation for its clubs remains “precarious,” said the hockey league, which had asked for stadiums to open at full capacity.

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