There was a point for a couple of games last season where there were actual fans in the stands at Allianz Stadium. It was brief, with the total number of Juve supporters only taking up a fraction of what the Allianz Stadium an actually hold. It was at that point that many of us figured larger crowds were going to be back in stadiums sooner rather than later, with full stadiums likely to greet the stretch run of the 2020-21 season.
That, of course, didn’t happen.
The winter months arrived just as spectators were starting to come back into Serie A stadiums, and as Italy’s case count went up, the empty stadiums made their return again. That small number of fans who got to watch Juventus in person were the only fans allowed to see the now-former Italian champions up until the Coppa Italia final in May.
But with Italy seeing case counts go up again in light of the Euros taking part in Rome and vaccination numbers still relatively lagging, the Italian government announced Thursday night that it is going to allow stadiums to have 50 percent capacity when the season starts next month. There is a catch for people who want to see games in person, though: Would-be spectators will need to present their Green Pass, which allows them to show that they are either fully vaccinated, in the process of doing so or have recently undergone a negative COVID-19 test.
For Juventus, this will mean just under 21,000 fans will initially be allowed to watch games at the Allianz Stadium when the Bianconeri play their first home game of the 2021-22 season against Empoli on Saturday, Aug. 28.
Italy’s Green Pass push is an attempt to try and get vaccination numbers up, with just over 50 percent of Italians 12 years old and older currently fully vaccinated, according to numbers from the Italian government. The Italian government has also put these kinds of measures in place for residents who are unvaccinated at other public and social activities — going to restaurants, visiting museums, etc. — as the Delta variant continues to spread quickly across Europe.
Italy’s seven-day average of cases has gone from just over 700 at the beginning of July to just under 3,500 on July 22.
There is another catch to all of this: The region the stadium is in will only be allowed to have 50 percent capacity allowed if they are in the “White Zone,” which is the lowest tier of restrictions currently in Italy. (Zones each region fall in are determined by the number of COVID-19 cases that involve hospitalizations.)
Also Thursday, the Italian government extended the COVID-19 state of the emergency through the end of the 2021 calendar year.
For Juventus, this is obviously a massive deal because of how much of a financial hit that the pandemic has had on the club. The Allianz Stadium, which seats 41,507 fans, was an absolute cash cow prior to the pandemic, with the club reaping all of the benefits of having a sold-out stadium in both Serie A and Champions League play. While it’s only at 50 percent capacity now — and who knows how long that may last or if rising case totals may force that number to come down — it will start to ease the burden and bring in revenue that hasn’t been there since the pandemic started.
And maybe, just maybe, it will help give Juventus the homefield advantage they’ve had since the first game at Allianz Stadium in 2011. That wouldn’t be a bad way to ring in the 10th year at the pretty new stadium, right?