JOHANNESBURG – The South African Football Association have stood by their decision to have all football activities in the country suspended amid the coronavirus outbreak that’s affected sport all over the world.
This was announced by Safa president Danny Jordaan following an urgent press conference at the association’s headquarters on Wednesday afternoon. Jordaan was joined by the association’s head of medical Dr. Thulani Ngwenya, who explained the risks of continuing with football activities – in full or empty stadiums.
Safa initially took the decision to suspend all football activities on Monday, after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that COVID-19 has become a national disaster, urging South Africans to refrain from being in gatherings where there’s 100 people and more.
On Monday, the Premier Soccer League followed suit as chairman Irvin Khoza announced that all football activities under the South African domestic league – which consists of the Absa Premiership, GladAfrica Championship and MultiChoice Diski Challenge – are suspended for this week.
In a twist of things, South African minister of Arts, Sport and Culture Nathi Mthethwa announced that the domestic football will continue behind closed doors – in light of minimising risk of the spread of the pandemic disease.
But Safa are having none of it, saying as the countries’ governing body of football, they’ve at least suspended all football activities at least until the fourth of April – which will be at least three weeks from now.
While Mthethwa and Jordaan offices are clearly on different signs of the coin regarding the commencement of the domestic football, the latter says he was supposed to have an urgent meeting with Mthethwa on Wednesday morning but that didn’t materialise due to the minister having other commitments.
With Safa having put stood their ground saying that they won’t allow the progression of matches, the PSL Board of Governors (all the 32 member clubs of the League) are expected to have an urgent sit in on Thursday where they’ll discuss a possible way forward.
Should the PSL also put their head on the block and reach a decision to indefinitely suspend matches, they’ll be one of the latest professional leagues around the world to stop football activities after countries such Italy, Spain, Germany, and France – who’ve seen a number of professional players contaminate the virus – suspend their leagues.
Around the world, major football tournaments such as the EURO2020 and Copa America are all postponed for at least a year, while Caf has suspended the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and 2020 Champions League campaign.