Fans follow the match between Chelsea and Leicester in London – (Photo: Glyn Kirk / EFE)
“Looks like I’m coming for the first time in my life.” In this way Englishman Sam Terry described the feeling of a return to the football game. It is not for less. He had not been in a stadium since February last year before the new coronovirus epidemic. “It’s indescribable, it’s fantastic,” the student told Estadao before the game between Chelsea and Leicester City for the English Championship. Last Tuesday, eight thousand London club fans were at Stamford Bridge for the first time since December last year.
Gradually, those who live in the UK are gaining some independence, thanks to an efficient vaccination campaign and a severe “lockdown” – the third – which lasted for more than three months and was gradually relaxed. Used to be. This week began a symbolic phase of reopening: friends can now hug each other – this was not allowed and we were still shaking hands with our elbows. The pub and restaurant returned to serve inside and a passionate football fan was able to return to the stadium. As it is the last week of the season, the league has reorganized the final round so that all clubs can receive their supporters at home. For now, a maximum of 10,000 people.
En route to Chelsea Stadium, fans reunited with those returning from work on the metro. Common sight on match days in London, but something that has not been seen for a long time. They were groups of friends, families with children. A boy took a poster demanding a shirt for the statue of Kante. “It was very lucky that we got a ticket, we think that day won’t come soon,” said student Ben Vaughan, who returned to the stadium after a year and three months. “It’s incredible to see people coming back to the feeling that things are returning to normal.”
It is also a new beginning for those who make their living with football. For nine years, Chelsea has been selling scarves and flags outside Gary Swales Stadium. The reopening is not only an opportunity for income recovery, but also to try to overcome a personal tragedy. Swales lost her mother to Kovid-19 in February. Before our interview, she took out her cell phone and showed me emotionally, pictures of her next to her young daughter on her 60th birthday in 2020.
“We’ll have to try, it’s good to get back to work, to see some normality,” he said. “When everyone is vaccinated, maybe we can have stadiums again. We are dependent on tourists coming back here. The Premier League (English Premier League) is a global league that everyone wants to see. If we If we can get it back, we will have a chance. “
Nearby, a café owner Arthur Silva, often seen by Brazilian Chelsea players, has a mixture of emotions. “I am very happy, as well as concerned with the increase in the number of variants (of coronavirus) and contagion. I want everything to be good for everyone. And I hope we don’t have to stop it again,” The said Brazil, which has seen movement in the last few days, has doubled.
Even with a successful vaccination campaign, which promises to immunize all adults in the UK with the first dose by July, the country again lives in a moment of uncertainty, with cases of the Indian version increasing. Along which puts the total exit of “lockdown” in doubt. “”. Meanwhile, officials are attempting to calculate the risk of each stage of deflation.
In April and May, the British government carried out a pilot project in which three matches at Wembley Stadium served as a test for a public comeback, including the FA Cup final last Saturday, when 21,000 fans took on Leicester City. Had seen Chelsea win. If it was necessary to submit a negative test for the Kovid-19 to enter the stadium in those matches, then this time, at Stamford Bridge, the supporter would only have to show a statement certifying that he had traveled abroad in the last six months Neither did nor symptoms of the new coronavirus.
Inside he had to wear a mask and social distancing. Nevertheless, the rules did not dampen the enthusiasm of fans. Four days ago the match was realized after that last one. The Blues paid back, winning 2–1. Sam Terry said, “I’m happy. I’m definitely going to celebrate in a pub.”
After more than a year of the epidemic and three “lockdowns”, the British, as they say here, prefer to be “cautiously optimistic” about the future. But, at least for that night, Chelsea fans gave themselves the right to celebrate.