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Experts tell Safa: No football until coronavirus lockdown level 1

Safa President Danny Jordaan.
Safa President Danny Jordaan.
Image: © Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix

Medical experts have given the South African Football Association (Safa) guidelines on when and how soccer in the country might be able to make a return during the coronavirus pandemic‚ saying that this should only take place at level 1 of lockdown.

Safa said in a statement on Thursday that it had engaged the expertise on the subject of “two medical experts”‚ but did not name them.

South Africa will move from a level 5 state of lockdown to level 4 on Friday.

“The commencement of Level 4 lockdown as of 1 May has raised the issue of when football will restart and whether Level 4 provides basis for playing games behind closed doors‚” Safa’s statement read.

“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.”

Safa said the advice they received from the two experts was: “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’.”

The statement concluded: “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.”

The association said the advice they received on a conducive playing environment during the pandemic would require:

• 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 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.

The Premier Soccer League's season has been suspended since March 16.