PSG fans amass outside stadium to support team despite ban
PARIS (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain fans amassed outside the club's stadium to cheer on the players before the Champions League last-16 game against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday. After PSG won 2-0 to secure passage into the quarterfinals, PSG's players quickly returned the compliment. They whipped off their jerseys, twirling them above their heads as they saluted the huge crowd still waiting outside.
PSG had not reached the finals since 2016, and television footage showed Neymar crying with relief after the game. The Brazil star scored PSG's first goal Wednesday. The match at Parc des Princes was played in an empty stadium because of the coronavirus outbreak. Many sports and other events around the world have been affected by the virus, leading to sporting events being held without any fans.
Despite not being allowed inside, around 3,000 PSG fans gathered to show their support outside the Parc des Princes. After meeting a couple of hours before the game had started, they walked to the stadium as they sang and cheered, letting off flares when the team bus arrived and enveloping it in a thick pinkish-red smoke.
They were allowed to place three banners inside the stadium, the largest of which read: “Our Only Virus is PSG.” Images of the fans chanting and singing outside was shown on the giant screen inside the stadium, so that the players could see the level of support outside.
As the match kicked off at 9 p.m. local time, fans outside let off fireworks which fizzed into the night sky. The fans continued to sing during the first half of the match, which in some ways resembled a loud training session.
Voices of players and coaches reverberated inside the ground as they encouraged each other or shouted instructions, or when the referee stepped in to talk to players. PSG coach Thomas Tuchel spoke shortly before the game about the feeling of playing in an empty stadium.
“It's weird, it's horrible,” he said on BFM TV. “I know there are more important things than football ... but the most important thing in football is the relationship between the fans and the players.”
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the WHO, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks. Those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
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