Wuhan (China) (AFP)

A draw can sometimes provoke emotions as strong as a victory.

Supporters of Wuhan Zall, a football club in the Chinese city where the new coronavirus appeared, could not hold back tears on Sunday after attending their first match since the pandemic.

After a start to the season behind closed doors, the Chinese Super League (CSL) is again open to a reduced number of spectators, on the condition that they have been declared negative for Covid-19 after a test spent in the 7 days preceding the meeting.

On Sunday, they were around 300 Wuhan supporters who made the 750 km trip to Suzhou, to see their team face one of the title contenders, Bruno Génésio's Beijing Guoan.

And the emotion more than lived up to their long wait.

Led 2-0 at the end of the first period, Wuhan Zall managed to pick up the score by scoring two goals in the space of three minutes during the second half, to snatch the draw (2-2) .

"When we equalized, we couldn't help but burst into tears in the stands," said Gao Yajun, a longtime supporter, who was leaving Wuhan for the first time since the coronavirus appeared there at the end of 2019.

For a few seconds, the disease ... and social distancing were totally forgotten.

Jumping around and hugging each other, Zall supporters sang and yelled to the sound of drums: “Wuhan! Wuhan!”, Soon joined by the team and all club staff Wuhan, gathered in a corner of the field to applaud them.

- "Life has resumed" -

"We're really happy, and I feel like we're going to have a hard time sleeping tonight," added Gao, 42, his fingernails painted orange and white and displaying a mask with his team logo.

The excitement was at its peak for days for the Wuhan fans, who had not attended a meeting of their team for nine months.

As soon as they entered the stadium and throughout the match, everyone remained standing and did not stop singing to encourage their team.

"We have hearts of absolute sincerity and we stand united through the wind and the waves," chanted fans in the Suzhou stadium, still largely deserted to comply with health security measures.

Before the start of the meeting, they had spread a banner outside the compound to thank all of China for its support in the fight against the coronavirus, which has hit their city hard.

At the end of January, Wuhan and its 11 million inhabitants had been the first city in the world to be confined because of the Covid.

The blockade of the city lasted 76 days.

But "now life has resumed and we are back at the stadium. We can show the rest of China and the whole world the spirit of the Wuhan people," Gao said.

"Wuhan is now a safe city, I hope you all come to visit Wuhan. And if you are a football fan, come and cheer on the team with us!" Said Shi Anshi, 74.

© 2020 AFP