At the beginning of May, South Africa entered the Level 4 lockdown in its fight against the novelty coronavirus.
With the country moving forward according to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s five-level plan, the issue of when football could return to South Africa has been raised. The nation’s well-being and public health are the absolute priority for South African authorities and it has already been made crystal clear that football fans will have to wait a bit longer for the 2019/20 season to resume.
The global pandemic has put football to an unprecedented halt worldwide. All major competitions have either been cancelled or postponed and South Africa was not exempt from a similar scenario. Sports enthusiasts and South African football have missed their favourite pastime while the betting sites in South Africa have also felt the consequences of Covid-19.
The South African Football Association (SAFA) is determined to find the best solution for the current issue but will not rush into getting back until it’s safe to do so. And with the country heading into the Level 4 lockdown, SAFA has released a statement, explaining that medical experts have been invited to submit reports on when it would be safe to resume football.
“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 in this process”, the statement reads.
As things stand at the moment, it is being argued that football can only be played on Level 1 lockdown. Football resumption would be executed without spectators and clubs would be required to deploy full time sports doctors to manage the Covid-19 situation.
Football is a contact sport where maintaining social distance would be difficult to control. Venues would need to be fully sanitized, while all players and the technical staff would go through a thorough screening before any games are played.
All football activities in the country have been suspended since mid-March. With no PSL matches to watch and bet on, the South African sports enthusiasts were forced to find alternative ways to entertain themselves. Fortunately, the leading betting services such as Sportingbet South Africa offered plenty of alternative betting options with no football involved.
And while leading European countries – such as Germany – are already putting football resumption plans in action, SAFA is taking steps in the right direction themselves.
The leading South African football body has already opened talks with the Premier Soccer League (PSL) to chart a way in which it would be possible to resume all football activities. SAFA and PSL held a virtual meeting in Nasrec on May 12 when a task team was formed to look at the concerns raised amidst the coronavirus spread.
Safety of the players and support staff is the biggest concern and the task team aims to compile a report for the Joint Liason Committee (JLC) where all the elements will be carefully considered. The report will then be submitted to the South African government for consideration as the six-member task team looks to find the best possible solution for the situation.
The task team has been given a two-week deadline to compile the report and submit it for consideration. What this means is that South African football fans and punters will wait until at least the end of May to learn when and if the 2019/20 season would resume.