JEDDAH: When Al-Hilal and Al-Ahli from Jeddah meet tomorrow night at the Prince Faisal bin Fahad stadium in Riyadh in the 28th round of Saudi Professional League (SPL), it will mark the first presence of a live audience at a football stadium since the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Saudi Ministry of Sports announced on March 29 that it had given the green light for the return of a limited number of fans to SPL football matches, with strict health and security measures still in place.
The last time spectators in the Kingdom were allowed inside a football stadium was March 7, 2020, just as the COVID-19 crisis was about to disrupt almost all sporting activities and competitions across the globe.
Now, returning fans will be given 40 percent of the ground’s capacity in assigned, socially distanced seats.
According to the ministry’s decision, fans are expected to be able to attend the last three rounds of the current SPL season, with Al-Hilal leading the table by four points from Al-Shabab and the remaining relegation spots still to be decided.
The ministry specified that the protocols allowing certain categories to attend will be in accordance with the individual’s Tawakkalna application status.
Those who have received either one or two vaccine doses or who have recovered from the virus will be allowed in, while fans under the age of 18 are required to only show their “non-infected” or “non-contacted” status on the Tawakalna app.
Tickets for the last three rounds of matches will be posted on the Saudi Tickets platform, and fans will be able to get their specifically numbered ticket online. Tickets will be provided by the hosting club.
Tickets for the game between Al-Hilal and Al-Ahli were reportedly sold out within minutes of going on sale.
Al-Hilal currently leads the standing in the SPL with 51 points gained from 27 games, followed by Al-Shabab with 48 points. Al-Taawoun and Al-Ittihad are fighting it out for third place with 47 points each.