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German club 'RB Leipzig' set to start season in front of 8,400 fans


RB Leipzig on Tuesday received permission to host 8,400 fans for their first Bundesliga game of the season in mid-September, which could make them the first German top-flight club to welcome back supporters since the coronavirus pandemic hit the country in mid-March.
It would see the Red Bull Arena at 20-percent full for Leipzig's 2020/21 campaign opener against Mainz on September 20.
"We are aware of the great trust placed in us by politicians and the authorities and will deal with it extremely responsibly and carefully," Leipzig managing director Oliver Mintzlaff told magazine Kicker.
According to AFP subsidiary SID, Leipzig have been given permission by local authorities to allow supporters into their 42,000-capacity stadium providing the low rate of infection does not rise sharply.
The current rate in the east German city is 3.2 new cases per week per 100,000 inhabitants.
It must remain below 20 in order for fans to return.
The last time Leipzig did not play behind closed doors was during a 3-0 win over Tottenham in the Champions League last 16 in mid-March.
The tickets for the game against Mainz would be allocated by a lottery system for the club's 22,500 season-ticket holders.
Only supporters residing in the state of Saxony would be allowed in.
Hertha Berlin, Union Berlin, Eintracht Frankfurt and Wolfsburg are also seeking permission from their local health authorities to host limited numbers of fans.
All spectators will be expected to wear face masks and follow social-distancing rules, with no beer sold and no away fans permitted.
Even before the season kicks off on September 18, when defending champions Bayern Munich host Schalke, some clubs will host fans during the German Cup first round.
The German FA has given the go-ahead, should local authorities grant permission, for supporters to be admitted on a case-by-case basis for the matches from September 11-14.
In mid-August, senior German politicians said they would not back the Bundesliga's plans for home fans to return across the country.
It is now up to clubs to get permission from their local authorities, who manage the preventive measures against Covid-19.

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