The key events and letters at heart of football fallout
While two letters from sports minister Nathi Mthethwa to South African Football Association (Safa) president Danny Jordaan and Premier Soccer League (PSL) chairman Irvin Khoza appear the main source of the current impasse between these two organisations, Sihle Ndebele unpacks events that have been defining the standoff between the sides.
May 12: Safa and the PSL meet in a joint liaison committee (JLC) made up of Jordaan, Khoza, Mato Madlala (PSL acting chief executive), Thulani Ngwenya (Safa chief medical officer) and Lervasen Pillay (PSL head of medical), among others.
The JLC presented a plan on how they'd be following Covid-19 guidelines to ensure safety, to Mthethwa.
June 24: Mthethwa approves the plan to resume training and play behind closed doors, commending the PSL's measures for exceeding the required protocols for the safe return to training and play.
The ministry then urges Safa to appoint a compliance officer who would oversee the whole process, and the governing body names Ngwenya as the man for the job.
July 2: The PSL appoints its own compliance officer in Michael Murphy. This appointment, according to Safa, was duplicity as Ngwenya was the man to oversee the return of football. On the same day, Cape Town City become the first side to resume training.
July 6: A letter from Mthethwa to Jordaan, stating that "Safa must play [an] overarching role in ensuring compliance with the directions through their appointed compliance officers", comes to the fore. The communication from Mthethwa to Jordaan also highlights that the PSL should submit all its compliance plans to Safa, with the latter emphasising that this never happened before clubs resumed training.
July 11: A leaked letter sent to the PSL's 32-member clubs disclosed plans to restart on July 18. But Safa responds by reiterating that football would only return on level 1 of the national lockdown.
July 13: Khoza holds a media conference. The PSL boss reads a letter from Mthethwa, giving the league the go-ahead to resume training and play. This sparked confusion as Mthethwa had given Safa all powers. Khoza also disclosed they'd complied with requirements and government officials were happy when they visited clubs' training grounds. The PSL chairman added that they had submitted their proposed start date (of July 18) to Safa.
July 14: Safa says referees were not ready for the restart as they "still needed to undergo fitness and Covid-19 tests", reasoning "they could only be available in the first week of August".
July 15: The PSL issues a statement confirming Safa had not availed referees, insisting they were ready to resume play on July 18 (Saturday) after complying with the requirements.
As things stand, August 1 seems the likely resumption date.
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