Charleroi's Ryota Morioka and FC Cologne's Elvis Rexhbecaj fight for the ball during a soccer friendly at the winter training camps in Valencia, Spain, Jan. 7, 2020. (CNS photo/Laurie Dieffembacq, Reuters)
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COLOGNE, Germany (CNS) -- FC Cologne, the city's first-division soccer club, is helping the local Catholic archdiocese with a ticket system for church services where seating capacity is limited due to the coronavirus social distancing restrictions.
"We are very thankful to 1. FC Koln for the quick and uncomplicated support in this unusual time," Msgr. Markus Hofmann, vicar general, said May 4. The German Catholic news agency KNA reported he added that, during the time of COVID-19, "This is a beautiful sign of solidarity."
Since the first weekend in May, public church services have been permitted again in Germany's most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, but under certain conditions. Because visitors must maintain a certain minimum distance from each other, the number of worshippers at a service is limited, with seating charted out according to the size of the room.
KNA reported that to meet the conditions, the Cologne Archdiocese is using an online ticket reservation system that FC Cologne -- or 1. FC Koln in German -- employs in planning for such events as autograph-signing sessions. Now the club is training staff members of parishes in using the system.
"It would make us very happy if we can help people in our city, despite the restrictions of the corona crisis, live and practice their faith," said Alexander Wehrle, managing director of FC Cologne.
The archdiocese said the ticket system guarantees that worshippers do not show up at churches only to be turned away. In addition, possible infection chains can be traced. Tickets are issued online or by telephone. However, not every parish in the archdiocese is using the system.