Football is back and so are the fans. This was the case in Vietnam on Friday when the top domestic league resumed two months after the coronavirus shutdown.
Fans were allowed into Ho Chi Minh City’s goalless draw with Hai Phong among three matches, but unlike Germany’s Bundesliga, Portuguese Primera Liga and South Korea’s K-League, which returned to action in May with empty arenas, more than a thousand fans attended the V-League game at Hai Phong.
Allowing fans to the matches were the result of Vietnam’s successful efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus. Despite sharing an extended land border with China, where the virus originated, Vietnam, with a population of almost 100 million has recorded just 328 cases and not a single recorded death from coronavirus.
The number, affected by inconvenient kickoff time, was relatively small compared to the league’s average attendance of over 7,000 in 2019.
Fans were subjected to temperature checks as they entered the stadiums, which were limited to half of normal capacity. They were not required to wear masks.
“Obviously we are happy to play in front of fans as this is what makes football special,” said Ho Chi Minh coach Jung Hae-sung. “We have been waiting a long time for the league to restart.”
Two rounds of games have already been played earlier in the year before the league was halted in March. The number of games will be reduced from the usual 26 to 18 or 20 as authorities hope to complete the season by the end of October.
In Friday’s other matches, more than 3,000 fans saw Nam Dinh lose 2-1 at home to The Cong while about 800 attended Sai Gon FC’s 0-0 draw with Binh Duong.