No spectators are allowed at La Liga games to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, but the restrictions could not dissuade one Lionel Messi fan from sneaking in to Barcelona’s match away to Real Mallorca on Saturday.
Clad in an Argentina shirt and holding his phone, the fan calmly walked on to the pitch early in the second half of the game and defied the league’s social distancing regulations by approaching Barca defender Jordi Alba before heading towards Messi.
The intruder was tackled by security guards before he could make any contact with the six-times world player of the year, however, while two police officers also helped remove him from the pitch.
La Liga leaders Barcelona won the match, their first since the season resumed after a three-month break, 4-0.
Mallorca did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how the fan was able to access the stadium.
The breach of security was all the more surprising in view of the fact that only 229 people are allowed to enter stadiums for matches from now until the end of the season under the league’s latest protocol on resuming the campaign.
The protocol also includes strict guidelines on how teams enter and leave stadiums for matches and obliges players to wear masks and gloves on the way from their team hotel to the ground as well as in the dressing room, among other rules.
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Barcelona manager Quique Setien was pleased with his team’s performance at the Estadio de Son Moix stadium.
The former Real Betis coach liked what he saw from his side, who have 10 games left in the LaLiga season.
“The feelings are good. There are always things that you want to improve, but I am satisfied with the game we have made.
“We have had effectiveness … but we were fine with the ball. We have had a break, but I am very satisfied.
“To be the first game without playing, we could be accused of a lack of rhythm, but I think it is a good start to face this sprint that we have 10 games left. I have good feelings in general,” Setien told journalists after the match.
Barcelona host Leganes at the Nou Camp on Tuesday before travelling to Sevilla three days later. Mallorca, who have a crucial clash with Leganes next Friday, travel to Villarreal next.