The second of Europe's five major leagues, La Liga, kicked off in Spain as two local rivals, Sevilla and Real Betis met in a hotly contested derby behind closed doors.

Sevilla and Betis players stand during a minute of silence before the start of their Spanish La Liga soccer match in Seville, Spain on June 11, 2020.
Sevilla and Betis players stand during a minute of silence before the start of their Spanish La Liga soccer match in Seville, Spain on June 11, 2020. (AP)

La Liga resumed on Thursday after three months away due to coronavirus as Sevilla hosted local rivals Real Betis behind closed doors at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

The match was the first to kick off in Spain's top flight since March 10 and makes La Liga the second of Europe's five major leagues to restart, after the Bundesliga in Germany returned on May 16.

More than 600 police officers were called to keep the situation under control outside the venue.

"Bizarre"

Streets were blocked and barriers erected around the ground before most of the fans eventually dispersed before the 2000GMT kick-off.

The Seville derby is usually played in one of Spain's most colourful atmospheres and in normal circumstances would have attracted a crowd of more than 40,000.

"It's very bizarre, it's different. This derby behind closed doors makes us sad, but despite that it will still be intense," said 23-year-old Laura Marin, a Sevilla supporter.

Another Sevilla fan, Jose Luis Meana, said he would follow the game on the radio.

Despite the stadium ban, he said he will still experience the derby "with great passion, because football that we love so much is back".

He added: "We don't know what form the players will be in. We also hope that there will be no new wave (of the virus) with people gathering."

Sevilla are currently third in the standings at 47 points, while city rivals Betis are 12th at 33.

Tebas hopes fans can attend games before end of season

Spanish clubs are going to consider more direct swaps of players instead of big transfer payments given the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis, the league president Javier Tebas claimed.

“The transfer market will be subdued. It is clear that there will be fewer direct cash transactions. There will be more player swaps,” Tebas told the media in a video conference.

Tebas said he did not expect the Spanish league's transfer market to move more than 908 million dollars (800 million euros), compared to 3.4 billion dollars (3 billion euros) last summer.

Tebas said he was hopeful that around “10 to 15 percent of fans could be back in the stands” this summer, but Spain's government has ruled that out.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies