The presence of the Portuguese under-21 football team between Thursday and today in the group stage of the European category, in Slovenia, was covered by exhaustive restrictive measures in full fight against the covid-19 pandemic.
Lodged in Ljubljana since March 23, the Portuguese delegation, made up of 23 players and 17 staff members, was subjected every three days to screening tests for the new coronavirus, which causes covid-19, without ever having registered any case of infection.
Portugal completed five training sessions at the Kodeljevo Athletics and Football Stadium, on the east side of the Slovenian capital, where dozens of people flocked to watch Rui Jorge’s pupils from a distance, but without the right to the usual autographs and photographs.
If the technical team and the remaining staff of the ‘quinas’ were adopting the universal rules of social distance, having even accompanied the footballers summoned on two different buses, the Slovenian community devalued the massive use of masks.
In a nation with vaccination completed in almost 11% of the 2.1 million inhabitants, the daily bulletin of infected (214,891) and killed (4,047) covid-19 it continued at an increasing pace and brought to a halt the gradual deflation felt since mid-February.
With the Easter weekend approaching, the Janez Jansa government decided to resume social isolation from Thursday to April 11, conditioning circulation between regions and the gathering of people and closing schools and non-essential trade.
The use of a mask will become mandatory on public roads, not least because Slovenia is classified today by the Our World in Data portal as the fifth country in the world with the most cases of infection (102,959) and the seventh with the most deaths (1,943) per million of inhabitants.
After 12 months of detection of the first infected in Ljubljana, the population’s relaxation contrasts with the minutia of UEFA in organizing the UEFA European Under-21 Championship, hosted by Hungary and Slovenia and divided into two phases of the season.
The first final phase of the main European team tournament in the hope range with 16 teams registered an unprecedented absence of public in the stadiums, following the trend of sports events that took place in recent months in a pandemic context.
The protocol in the eight precincts of four Hungarian cities (Budapest, Székesfehérvár, Szombathely and Gyor) and many other Slovenians (Ljubljana, Celje, Maribor and Koper) determined the measurement of body temperature as soon as each participant arrived.
The access to the technical zone included only the people essential to the logistics of the 24 games of the group stage, all dependent on the performance of a negative test to the covid-19, always wearing a mask and with physical distance of one and a half meters between them.
The ball-catchers had to disinfect their hands before, at half-time and at the end of the game and clean each ball, while the substitute players watched the challenge sitting on one of the benches, two chairs apart and away from the coaching staff.
An identical portrait was on the presidential stand, in which Fernando Gomes and Slovenian Aleksander Ceferin, presidents of the Portuguese Football Federation and UEFA, respectively, witnessed the victorious Portuguese debut against Croatia (1-0).
When they entered the field on Thursday at the Bonifika Stadium in Koper, on the banks of the Adriatic Sea, the two teams and the referee trio lined up on the pitch without compliments before the opening whistle, a rule that had faded at the end of the match.
Dispensers of alcohol gel were also a constant at the Stozice Stadium, in Ljubljana, where Portugal beat England on Sunday (2-0) and today ends the group stage against Switzerland, needing only a draw to head to the elimination round, scheduled from May 31 to June 6, also in Hungary and Slovenia.
The press gallery was not very well attended during the first stage of the tournament, and each media professional must complete a personal statement at the entrance of the venue and follow different routes in the route of the sports agents.
In the absence of mixed zones, only stations with broadcast rights to the competition were allowed to conduct quick interviews, while preview and after press conferences were limited to digital media.
The Lusa agency never saw fans in national colors during the 10-day stay in Slovenia, but found a Slovenian volunteer living in Funchal four months ago to help organize the three group D games played in Koper.
“I traveled on purpose, because I like football and tournaments of this dimension. First, I am a fan of Slovenia. Second, of course I am from Portugal. They have a good team and can win the trophy. I really like Pedro Gonçalves and Tiago Tomás, because my girlfriend’s family supports Sporting, ”shared Robi Ferjancic, 26.
Born in Vipava, in western Slovenia, almost 50 kilometers from Ljubljana, this producer of audiovisual content on a ‘freelance’ basis moved to Madeira because of his passion for Portuguese nationality and assumes himself as a fan of Portimonense.
“Another half of my family is a fan of Benfica. As I didn’t want to be divided, I decided to like Portimonense. He was one of the last placed players from last season in the I League, they came down to the II League on the pitch and I thought they needed some fans. I even have a mask here with the symbol and colors of the club ”, he patented.
Robi Ferjancic was also a volunteer at Eurobasket2013 and Euro2018 futsal, the latter won by Portugal, two events with finals held at Arena Stozice, located next to the stage of the UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship final.