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Fans are now allowed in Cambodian football stadiums

Jose Rodriguez T. Senase / Khmer Times Share:
Fans watch a game at the Prince Stadium in Phnom Penh a few months ago before coronavirus struck. KT/Yeun Punleau

Cambodian football fans will soon have more things to cheer about after the government announced that it will allow a limited number of fans to watch games courtside.

For the past several months, the government has banned fans from football games and other sports activities to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The number of people allowed at stadiums was limited to 100, with most being players, coaches and match officials.

But with the pandemic now under control, the government has started to loosen its restrictions on sports activities. Unlike many of its neighbours, Cambodia has managed to effectively control the spread of the deadly virus, registering only 275 cases of infection and no fatalities.

In a press statement released on September 23, Health Minister Mam Bun Heng announced that football stadiums will now be allowed to admit 10 percent of their seating capacity.

In the case of the 70,000-capacity Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh, where most of the football games are held, it would mean that 7,000 people will be allowed courtside to watch the matches. In addition to the Olympic Stadium, there are many football stadiums spread across Phnom Penh, Takeo, Kandal, Siem Reap, Svay Rieng and other parts of the country.

This new development means that fans who have been angling to see their favourite football players in person will now have that opportunity, provided they follow the health and safety protocols set by the Ministry of Health.

Since tournaments resumed in July, football fans were relegated to watching the matches on television or though Facebook Live.

The Health Ministry announcement said that fans need to book online, wear face masks at all times while inside the stadium and observe social distancing. The stadiums and similar facilities, meanwhile, are required to install thermal scanners, disinfectant spray booths, among things, to ensure that the health and safety of the people inside will not be compromised.

Cambodia has several ongoing football competitions and more in the pipeline. These include the top-tier Metfone Cambodian League and Hun Sen Cup, the Kingdom’s premier knockout tournament. The inaugural Women’s Football Championship 2020 will kick off on Sept 27, while the Cambodian Second League will resume on October 3.

The announcement was greeted with glee among football players, officials and legions of football fans alike.

“It’s amazing to have fans back at the stadium, even at just 10 percent capacity. Still, it’s really nice and I think it’s a good decision as long as safety measures are followed,” Jonny Campbell, a defender for Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng FC, said.

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