French football is finally back, with fans, as Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain entertained second-tier minnows Le Havre in a friendly match in front of 5,000 fans on Sunday.
The much-anticipated friendly match is the first football action in France since the league was cancelled in May and more importantly, action-starved fans were allowed back into a stadium for the first time since COVID-19 forced almost all elite sports to be played behind closed doors.
The return of football excited PSG's Neymar who expressed his feelings ahead of the clash.
"We are back! A friendly that feels like a final with a knot in my stomach," said the Brazilian forward.
Although French health authorities have started warning the public about the increasing number of infections, the local government in Normandy continue to relax the coronavirus-related restrictions at full speed and permit about 5,000 supporters to throng into Le Havre's 25,000-seat Stade Oceane.
The result of the friendly didn't matter as the game itself is not so much relevant as symbolic of the resemblance of normalcy.
"It is a victory for French football," beamed sports minister Roxana Maracineanu, who attended the game with great relish. "I am delighted that football in France can resume with fans in the stadiums. We are the only country in western Europe that can do this."
"It's a progressive return to normal life for players and supporters," added the former world swimming champion."
The French government's lackadaisical attitude is a notable exception to Europe's circumspection. The English Premier League have suggested that fans may have to content with watching games from the comfort of their own homes for the next six to 12 months according to the division's medical advisor.
Maracineanu pointed out that the sports authority would review their latest daring attempt to rush back to normalcy later this week, with adjusting the attendance limit possibly on the agenda.