Budapest: For Bayern Munich fan Sven Widmann, it was worth driving to Budapest just to watch the Champions League winners play in Thursday's UEFA Super Cup, the first time he's been able to do so at a stadium since the coronavirus first hit Europe in March.
"My last game at the stadium was in March," said Widmann, sporting a brand-new Bayern jersey and smiling broadly at Budapest's Puskas Stadium behind his face mask.
As a pilot project to allow fans to return, around 15,500 football fans watched the Super Cup in Budapest, which proved controversial since the German government classed the Hungarian capital a risk zone.
"We all know that it is not easy, especially with this (health) situation, to make good decisions," said Bayern coach Hansi Flick after the 2-1 win over Sevilla.
"It was good to have this atmosphere, it's great that fans came, it's better for football obviously. It was more like football.
"I hope that everyone who returns (to Germany) will remain in good health, that's what I want tell fans: Stay healthy, because it's the most important thing these days."
Widmann, a season ticket holder at Munich's Allianz Arena, was not going to miss the chance to finally see his beloved Bayern in action again.
"It's really special, because Bayern has spoiled us in recent months. So there's a lot of joy," added Widmann, who had to cheer last season's Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League triumphs watching on television.
Having had to pass in front of special thermal cameras which measure fans' body temperature before entering the stadium, Widmann was one of around only a thousand Bayern fans who made the trip from Germany.
The vast majority of the famous red Bayern shirts and scarves on display belonged to Hungarian fans of the German champions.
Hundreds of Bayern fans returned their tickets after Markus Soeder, state premier for Bavaria, this week warned German fans to "think again" before travelling to Budapest.
All fans returning to Germany must test negative for Covid-19 or face a two-week quarantine.
"I wanted to come with a friend, but he cancelled because of the virus - his wife was afraid," admitted Widmann, who drove from Munich after being tested on Monday.
"I respect distances, wear my mask, and I live in Munich, where you can get the virus just as easily."
The match in Budapest was also the first time Sevilla fans could see their team play live in a stadium since March.
A noisy group of 350 Sevilla fans cheered their team -- but told similar tales of how the measures to combat the coronavirus had overshadowed their journey to Budapest.
"It was much more complicated than usual," said 52-year-old Sevilla fan Silvia Guijarro.
"We had to all test negative.
"But until the last moment, we didn't know whether we would be able to move around freely in Budapest or whether we would have to stay indoors until the match."
Meanwhile, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has defended the decision to allow fans to attend the fixture.
"We will have 16,000 spectators in the stadium, not even 30 percent," of capacity, Ceferin said at a press conference following a UEFA executive committee meeting in Budapest.
"The measures are strict and there is not a question of health risks for the fans.
"The easiest thing for us would be not to do anything. Health is the number one priority but we want to bring hope."
The initial plan had been to allow for up to 3,000 fans of each team to attend the game.
Ceferin pointed out the number of fans being allowed into games currently varies considerably from country to country around Europe, with some setting a fixed maximum number of spectators and others adjusting crowds as a percentage of capacity.
Other countries, such as England and Spain, have started the new season with games behind closed doors.
"Fans and players are the essential part of football. We will take care of health, we are working day and night on it, but from today on we will see what we decide," added Ceferin, who insisted no decision had been taken in terms of fans attending games at next year's European Championship.
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