Another European League Resumes Play After Coronavirus Hiatus

The top Czech league held matches for the first time in two months on Saturday.

PRAGUE — The top Czech soccer league resumed on Saturday after a two-month break due to the new coronavirus pandemic, with Teplice beating Slovan Liberec 2-0 in a match that included pre-kickoff temperature checks and other protective measures.

The re-start made the Czech league one of the first in Europe to take to the pitch again, following the Bundesliga which resumed last weekend in neighboring Germany.

The match was played without spectators, as only 150 people were allowed at the stadium, but the organisers played sounds of an actual audience from loudspeakers to make up for the lost atmosphere.

Players did not shake hands before kick-off and did not come onto the pitch at the same time. All those in the stadium except for the players and referees had to wear masks.

Teams had stopped collective training sessions in mid-March as the country all but ground to a halt with strict rules and limits imposed on services and public life, including border closures, to limit the spread of the virus.

Before league matches could re-start, all 16 top-tier teams had to test their players and staff for COVID-19 and agree to protective measures that included having players stay in single rooms when travelling to away matches.

In order to finish the season by mid-July, teams will play twice weekly but will be allowed five substitutes during matches. Public health officers will monitor matches and any individual who tests positive for COVID-19 will be quarantined.

The league has voted not to crown a champion or relegate a team if the season is not completed.

(Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Michael Kahn and Hugh Lawson and Pritha Sarkar)

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