Government green-lights Latvia football clash in front of 1,000 people

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Estonian football fans. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Thursday's football international between Estonia and Latvia will go ahead with up to 1,000 people in attendance, one day ahead of an easing of restrictions which would have permitted that figure in any case. Spectators in even small numbers were only permitted from last Friday.

The government made the decision Tuesday, ahead of the clash which comes as part of the Baltic football tournament and at a time when the Estonian team is on the form, with two wins in a row in recent days breaking a two-year losing streak.

Culture minister Anneli Ott (Center) said of the game that: "This is an important match for Estonian football, since if we win, we would be able to clinch the annual Baltic tournament, something we have been waiting to do for 83 years."

"To give an addition a boost to the home team, we opted to allow 1000 people to take part," Ott added.

Sport falls under the culture ministry's remit.

The current restrictions, due now to be lifted on June 11, just a day after the scheduled game, would have capped all participants at the encounter, at the A. le Coq Arena in Tallinn, including players, coaches, staff, security etc. as well as crowds, at 250. That number has now been quadrupled.

Spectators were only permitted at sporting events at all from last Friday.

"The 14,000-seat national stadium is large enough to accommodate 750 more spectators and to ensure sufficient dispersion," Ott added.

As reported by ERR News, the Estonian football association (EJL) applied to the ministry and to the Health Board (Terviseamet) to ask for the exemption, adding that the crowds would be separated into several cohorts, which would not be permitted to mingle.

Spectators are capped at 800, players, coaches and all those directly involved in organization at 140, and the media at 60, making a total of 1,000, while the EJL says all coronavirus best practices will be in place.

Kick-off is Thursday at 7 p.m., when the game can be viewed live (with Estonian commentary) via ETV2 here.

Estonia, who have not qualified for the European Championships starting this weekend, go into the match buoyed by a 1:0 win away to Finland last Friday, and another away win, same score-line, in Lithuania two days earlier.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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