The SA Football Association and its professional affiliate – Premier Soccer League – did the right thing under prevailing circumstances by suspending all their activities in line with the call made by the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa who declared the coronavirus a national disaster.
This followed decisions by FIFA, CAF, the English Premier League, Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, Gabon, Morocco, Egypt and many other football federations across the world took note of the spread of the virus and called off their matches in an attempt to nip its spread in the bud.
In his announcement to the South African nation on Sunday evening, President Ramaphosa outlined measures that would be taken to minimize the risk of spreading the virus by limiting contact amongst groups of people by prohibiting a gathering of more than 100 people at any given time following the official announcement that 62 people are confirmed to have contacted the disease in South Africa.
PSL chairman Dr Irvin Khoza announced at a media briefing that all activities of the organization, including a crunch title deciding match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates at Loftus Stadium on Tuesday, has been postponed until further notice while all Multichoice Diski matches have been cancelled indefinitely.
“The measures (to suspend football activities) has a direct impact on all our football activities,” said SAFA CEO Gay Mokoena, “particularly as most if not all our matches are attended by more than 100 people.
“Some of the football authorities elsewhere in the world have taken measures such as playing in “empty stadiums” without spectators. This response has not proven to be effectively minimizing the spread of the virus.
“In Europe, some players who participated in matches “behind closed doors” have recently been found to be positive. (A coach of a lower division team in Spain is reported to have died) Therefore, we do not believe that the practice of playing behind closed doors is effective.
“Following on our statement of last week, in which we had indicated that it was necessary to postpone or suspend the domestic football program at this stage, circumstances have changed drastically for the worse. Government has called on all stakeholders to take necessary steps to prevent the spread of the virus.”
Mokoena explained that SAFA would be constantly in contact with Health authorities to review the situation on an on-going basis. Members will be advised accordingly. This is our effort to promote the health and safety of all our members including players, officials, sponsors and staff.