Business as usual for local football

By Bonginkosi Ndadane Time of article published Mar 16, 2020

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The South African Football Association (Safa) does not believe that football in the country should be suspended due to the coronavirus which has devastated sport across the globe.

Most of the top leagues in Europe have been suspended.

The NBA also suspended their league and the Formula One Grand Prix that was supposed to be held in Australia yesterday was cancelled.

The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers, where Bafana Bafana were supposed to take on Sao Tome and Principe in back-to-back matches, were also postponed.

But the Premier Soccer League continued with its business this weekend with the quarter-finals of the Nedbank Cup.

As of Saturday there were no fatalities in South Africa, with the number of reported incidents sitting at 38.

“It is our considered view that there is no need to panic at this stage,” Safa said in a statement.

“The virus is not an epidemic yet. We are positive that the situation will improve rather than worsen.

"We believe that there is no need to either suspend or postpone the football program in the country at this stage. This position could change, pending the developments in the spread of the virus.

"We are reviewing the situation on a continuous basis.”

Yesterday cabinet discussed the virus and the measures South Africa have to take to tackle it.

“We wish to acknowledge that the coronavirus is here with us,” Safa said.

“A number of cases have been reported by the government and the health authorities. The sad news is that the number of people who have been affected by the virus is still growing at this stage. However, the positive news is that the disease is not an epidemic in our country as yet. We have full confidence in our health authorities. "We have seen critical patients getting better after coming into contact with the virus.

“As the football family of South Africa, we are taking our cue from our government, represented by the Department of Health and our football mother bodies, Fifa and CAF. We will be guided by these authorities in all the decisions that we will be taking.”

Fifa were clear on what needs to be done regarding international football.

“Fifa understands that to hold the matches under current circumstances might not only present potential health risks to players (and to the general public) but would also, most likely, compromise the sporting integrity of such matches insofar as certain teams may be deprived of their best squads whilst others may not,” the organisation said in a statement.

Bonginkosi Ndadane

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