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Safa gets tough in letter to Caf: SA clubs ‘will not play at neutral venues’

South Afrian Football Association CEO Tebogo Motlanthe.
South Afrian Football Association CEO Tebogo Motlanthe.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

The SA Football Association (Safa) has sent a strongly-worded letter to the Confederation of African Football (Caf) laying out its position on travel by South African national teams and clubs as regards the Covid-19 situation.

Safa spelled out to Africa’s ruling body that SA teams “will not use neutral venues‚ as there [are] no substantial health reasons to do so”‚ and said that it had “scoffed at as being opportunistic” clubs’ and countries’ efforts to move games from South Africa.

The correspondence follows Morocco’s authorities denying Kaizer Chiefs visas for their Caf Champions League Group C away game against Wydad Casablanca that had been scheduled for this past Saturday.

Mamelodi Sundowns had to cancel their trip for their Group B game against CR Belouizdad on Thursday‚ as the club was leaving for OR International airport‚ after the Algerian authorities initially granted visas. Sundowns were told on Thursday the situation had changed due to “further medical restrictions”.

Safa‚ in a statement released in Friday‚ said it had laid out its position to Caf as:

  • Following the resumption of football in the country for both international and domestic activities‚ we have never had a surge in the number of infections due to the strict health protocols in place that are in line with CAF COVID-19 health protocols.
  • All our clubs/national teams will not use neutral venues‚ as there [are] no substantial health reasons to do so.
  • We request that CAF should provide us any breach of their COVID-19 health protocols by both Clubs and National Teams.
  • We request that CAF provide us with any research conducted regarding our COVID-19 situation in South Africa that would warrant alternatives at this stage as all countries have COVID-19 cases with Morocco being second on the continent behind South Africa.
  • Having hosted Sao Tome in an AFCON qualifier and a number of matches in the CAF championships without any health related incidences‚ we urge CAF to apply rules and regulations where clubs or countries do not want to travel to South Africa or to allow South Africa in their countries. Those clubs and countries must forfeit the matches in line with the CAF Regulations.

The statement continued: “The letter to CAF follows refusal of entry to Morocco of Kaizer Chiefs Football Club to play their CAF Champions League match by Moroccan authorities. Other clubs and countries have subsequently asked CAF to move their games from South Africa which the Association has scoffed at as being opportunistic.

“[The] South African U17 Men’s squad are scheduled to travel to Morocco to participate in the u17 AFCON tournament while the CAF Congress is due to take place on 12 March also in Morocco.”

Chiefs’ game against Wydad has been officially rescheduled to Sunday‚ February 28 in Cairo‚ Egypt. Caf’s organising committee for inter-club competitions is to decide the fate of Sundowns’ game against Belouizdad.