We've got news for you.

Register on SowetanLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

No clarity on whether spectators will be allowed to attend Chiefs vs Pirates Soweto derby showdown

Mahlatse Mphahlele Sports reporter
Sport fans are keen to return to stadiums for games and events.
Sport fans are keen to return to stadiums for games and events.
Image: Gallo Images

It is becoming increasingly likely that there will be no spectators at FNB Stadium when Kaizer Chiefs host traditional rivals Orlando Pirates in the Soweto derby on Saturday.

Amakhosi welcome the Buccaneers to the giant calabash in what will possibly be the fifth competitive derby to be played behind closed doors since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic early last year.

Stadium Management CEO Bertie Grobbelaar told TimesLIVE that at the moment they are preparing for the SA football showcase as if it will once again be played without spectators.

“I am waiting for the club and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) with regards to that issue of [allowing] spectators [to attend the derby]. But as we sit here, our planning is for the match to go ahead without spectators,” said Grobbelaar, whose company manages the 2010 Soccer World Cup venue.

The PSL had not responded to questions at the time of publishing the story and it will be updated should they offer a comment.

Recently the government gave the green light for 2,000 fans to be allowed at the same Johannesburg venue when Bafana Bafana hosted Ethiopia in a 2022 World Cup qualifier. The PSL followed suit when the MTN8 final between Mamelodi Sundowns and Cape Town City in Durban was played in front of 2,000 people.

Asked if they will welcome 2,000 fans for this weekend’s derby match, Chiefs said they will be directed by the league.

“The return of supporters to the matches is not a club decision. We will wait for a directive from the PSL, please refer to the last statement issued by the league,” said Chiefs spokesperson Vina Maphosa.

Looking at the situation, industry experts who did not want to be named said it is not advisable to have 2,000 spectators at the stadium for a high-profile match like the Soweto derby.

“As things stand now, both the league and the host club Chiefs have not pronounced themselves on this issue, but it is safe to say that having 2,000 fans poses a serious security threat,” the expert said.

“The concern here is that if you say 2,000 fans must come to the stadium, there is a possibility of many people outside wanting to enter the stadium.”

Over the past few weeks, Cricket SA (CSA) opened up for fans for the CSA T20 Challenge and 4-Day Franchise Series even though the turnout was poor.

Rugby will welcome fans for the first time in a professional match during the Carling Champions Match between a select team from the Currie Cup and Kenya at Loftus on Saturday.

Since Covid-19 began to wreak havoc with life across the globe in the beginning of last year,  the two Soweto giants have met twice in the DStv Premiership, twice in the MTN8 competition and once during the off-season Carling Black Label.

Going into Saturday’s clash, the two sides will be looking to catch up with early pacesetters Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United.