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AFC Champions League Final to mark the long-awaited return of fans

Doha: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the Qatar Football Association (QFA) have agreed to allow a limited number of fans to return for the AFC Champions League Final between Persepolis FC and Ulsan Hyundai FC at the Al Janoub Stadium on Saturday at 3pm (local time).

The significant decision marks the first time since the suspension of the tournament in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic that spectators will be allowed to return to the stadium for an AFC Champions League match.

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As part of efforts to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all fans, the AFC and Local Organising Committee (LOC) have introduced a strict set of protocols taking guidance from the key operational principles applied to all local football events in Qatar, which allows spectators up to 30% of the stadium capacity the opportunity to witness the Continental club showpiece ‘live’.

Tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and all spectators will be required to undergo the COVID-19 Antigen Test before Saturday’s kick-off with only supporters who produce negative results allowed into the stadium.

Other strict measures include staggering the arrival and exit times of supporters to reduce and avoid crowding as well as reminder signs and regular announcements to emphasise the need for physical distancing and maintaining personal hygiene.

Similar measures were followed during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Asian Qualifiers Group E match between Qatar and Bangladesh held earlier this month, the Continent’s first competitive international match since the COVID-19 pandemic began, which was attended by 1,044 physically distanced fans.

While the latest decision does not apply to travelling spectators due to the COVID-19 quarantine restrictions and regulations in Qatar, the LOC have also arranged for cardboard cut-outs of more than 3,000 fans who have submitted their photographs in massive numbers to be displayed in the stadium.

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