The South African Football Association (SAFA) has reiterated that its decision to suspend all forms of football in the country in response to the coronavirus outbreak is final.
Addressing the media on Wednesday, SAFA President Dr Danny Jordaan said playing football behind closed doors is not a solution because evidence from Europe shows that players still got infected there.
Jordaan said, “SAFA, and no one else, runs football in the country in accordance with CAF [Confederation of African Football] and FIFA statutes.”
Health of referees
He said SAFA has an obligation to safeguard the health of its referees “who mostly use public transport to go and officiate games.”
Jordaan, who was accompanied by SAFA’s chief medical officer Dr Thulani Ngwenya, insisted that SAFA’s decision is final and binding.
For his part, Ngwenya said if the Premier Soccer League (PSL) continues as normal, the local football fraternity would not be able to adequately handle the risk of spreading coronavirus.
SAFA’s decision is at odds with the stance taken by the PSL and the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa.
PSL board of governors to meet
On Monday, PSL chairman Irvin Khoza announced the suspension of football matches this week, with a further decision to be made on Thursday at a meeting of PSL’s board of governors.
Mthethwa sparked further confusion on Tuesday when he said matches could go ahead without spectators.
He said, “As we speak, they can have their match tomorrow with no spectators. Even if we are going to reach a point where there may be no matches, it will be gradually phased in.
“But there is an obligation on them to follow to the letter the health and hygiene protocols as outlined by the department of health.”
However, Jordaan said whatever decision PSL’s board of governors take on Thursday, it should not disregard SAFA’s decision that all football should be cancelled until 4 April at the earliest.
President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster on Sunday in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
South Africa had 116 confirmed cases as of Wednesday morning, with 14 of those being cases of local transmission.