SAFA have issued an update on their stance relating to the PSL’s potential return to action amid the ongoing suspension due to the coronavirus.
Professional football in the country has been suspended for six-and-a-half weeks since COVID-19 outbreak cause substantial health concerns to stakeholders in South Africa.
The worldwide pandemic has since forced countries such as Belgium, France and Netherlands to declare the abrupt end to their domestic seasons, while the likes of English Premier League and La Liga have yet to reach a definitive resolution.
Locally, SAFA have taken a stance that any proposed return to action will not be considered until such a time that, in conjunction with FIFA and national government, they decide it is safe to proceed.
“SAFA has taken note of [practices abroad] and has further invited the opinion of two medical experts to submit reports on when it would be safe to resume playing football in our country,” read a statement from the FA on Thursday.
“SAFA will submit a full report to the world football governing body, FIFA on the impact of Covid-19 on football in our country and when SAFA believes it will be safe to resume football again.
“SAFA will work with the government led by the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Minister Nathi Mthethwa on this process.”
A summary of the report from the two unnamed medical experts reads as follows:
Playing football requires travelling, including from one province to the other and that cannot be achieved under Level 4.
Another issue is the social distancing factor – football is a contact sport where ‘we cannot social distance’.
Conducive playing environment needs:
- To sanitise the Venues – both the Training and Match venues
- To thoroughly screen all the players including the technical and support staff before any games are played.
- For it to be safe, the recommendation is to test everyone involved for Covid-19 rather than just screening.
- The screening should be done on a daily basis because the virus can at times be dormant and not show any symptoms when someone could be carrying the virus. Players are discouraged from using the dressing room and must shower at home.
- Clubs must arrange that players do not use public transport when football resumes.
- The players should not share drinking bottles among others.
- The technical and support staff must always wear masks.
- The kit manager must always wear medical gloves when collecting and distributing the kit.
As things stand, the two experts argue that football can only be played on Level 1 but still without spectators and that all clubs must have full-time Sports Doctors to manage the Covid-19 situation.