CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

What are 2021/2022 Champions League Covid-19 restrictions?

The 2021/2022 Champions League group stage gets underway on 14 September but Covid-19 cases are rising. UEFA will announce restrictions for attending matches.

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What are 2021/2022 Champions League Covid-19 restrictions?

The 2021/2022 Champions League group stage will get underway on 14 September but Europe, and the rest of the world remains in the grip of Covid-19 with cases continuing to rise and no sign of abating. For the third year running, UEFA have imposed certain restrictions which apply to anyone involved in the tournament - participating clubs, match officials, players, UEFA match teams, club staff and to a lesser extent, the fans.

Covid-19 cases in Europe

The match protocols for this edition of the Champions League will have required revision because the circumstances surrounding the pandemic have changed. Now we have the Delta variant of Covid-19, believed to be more transmissible than other strains and currently the dominant strain in most European countries. In general, lockdowns have been lifted in most countries and large gatherings are allowed (under certain criteria - wearing masks and social distancing). There is always a chance that some cities could reintroduce night time curfews if there is a spike in infections.

Travelling within Europe is also not as straightforward as it was before the pandemic. Countries have different rules regarding entry, proof of vaccination, pre-travel tests and quarantine. EU residents who have received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine can apply for a health passport which will allow them to travel freely within the Union. England requires proof of at least two PCR tests when flying in from mainland Europe and there are extra restrictions such as for countries on their red list, which includes Turkey (curiously, where Thursday's group stage draw takes place). So, for example, if Besitkas are drawn against one of the English clubs, any of their fans wanting to travel to a game must book a quarantine package in a managed hotel for 10 days, at their own expense… That’s around 2,500 euros per adult, give or take a euro or two.

Before and after. Fans back at football grounds this month (top) compared to the situation a year ago.

Will away fans be allowed to attend Champions League games?

UEFA have yet to specify whether travelling fans will be allowed to attend all matches during the group stage or whether like last year, stadiums will only be open, in limited capacity, to home supporters. In the last edition, competing clubs were permitted to fill their stadiums to 30% capacity - home fans only.

UEFA mention that clubs must allocate 5% of their stadium capacity for travelling supporters for this edition of the Champions League and note: “Spectators are permitted to attend UEFA Matches, in countries where this is permitted by the authorities, who also determine the maximum permitted capacity. If this limit includes match participants and working staff as well as spectators, then priority must always be given to teams, officials and working staff”.

Much of it will be left down to local authorities, working alongside UEFA’s administration and new restrictions could be imposed if the pandemic situation changes or it is decided that the public’s health is at risk. UEFA is expected to clarify the situation regarding away fans, stadium capacity and Covid-19 protocols for fans in Thursday’s group stage draw. UEFA and FIFA recently announced that away fans will not be able to attend next month's international games, 2022 World Cup qualifiers and friendlies.

Fans pictured at last week's Champions League Play-Off between Red Bull Salzburg and Brøndby at Red Bull Arena.

Documentation to enter stadiums

We can get some idea though from recent UEFA events such as Euro 2020 and the Super Cup. Fans were required to present a vaccine passport or a similar document to show that they were not infected with Covid-19 (vaccine passport, negative PCR test result or certificate of previous infection). Health certification passports, such as the EU Digital COVID Certificate or the NHS Covid Pass can be downloaded onto your mobile phone and may be required to enter the stadium. The one thing that is not in any doubt, is that actually getting into the ground will be a much more lengthy, drawn-out process than before.