John Comitis believes that while local soccer authorities may be guided by what’s happening abroad, SA is different. Ryan Wilkisky BackpagePix
John Comitis believes that while local soccer authorities may be guided by what’s happening abroad, SA is different. Ryan Wilkisky BackpagePix

Comitis: Yellow card for spitting is excessive

By Herman Gibbs Time of article published May 15, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - Cape Town City boss John Comitis says some of the new rules for soccer issued by Fifa will not pose problems, but the matter of a yellow card for spitting will be “hard to police” and is excessive.

It is not yet known when soccer in South Africa will be resumed, but the guardians of the game are working feverishly behind the scenes to prepare for rebooting the local season.

The new rules are five substitutions, 23 players match day squads, temperature check of everyone entering the stadium, teams travelling by bus will use two buses, no handshakes, yellow cards for spitting and change of kits at half-time.

“Spitting is not always deliberate, it can be a subconscious thing,” said Comitis. “Players are now more educated than ever and they know it can be risky in terms of spreading germs.

“I have been a player myself, and I spat at times. I can honestly say I have never done it deliberately.

“As it is many players chew gum and that makes them salivate more. Also, players become tired and in turn ups your breathing rate. You will be inclined to spit as part of a natural reaction.

“I think it’s excessive and issuing a yellow card can lead to problems as well.

“What happens if a club disputes the card and says the player didn’t spit? What happens if the cameras used in the match did not pick up the spitting action? How will spitting be policed?

“And then I also fail to see the wisdom of the rule which says the team, when travelling, must use two buses.

“In this country, the 64-seater is a popular choice and since travelling squads will be 30 people, there should not be problems with social distancing.

“We must bear in mind that by the time the squad boards a bus to the match venue, so much testing and self-isolation has been done so what are the chances that this group can spread the virus?

“Fifa has not said a word about heading the ball. When you look at slow-motion action when heading a ball, you will notice there is often a visible splash of sweat that flies off the head. What if that sweat splash lands on another player? Can it be dangerous?

“The change of kits at half-time does not add to our problems. All teams already travel with two kits.”

At this stage, the Premier Soccer League is thinking of completing the season at a centralised venue so that travelling will be reduced to a minimum. In that way, the process of sanitising facilities at the venue rather than at several venues will be less cumbersome.

Most PSL teams have an average of six matches left to complete the domestic league.

Comitis said while soccer authorities may be guided by what’s happening abroad, South Africa is different.

“When you look at most European leagues, teams don’t usually have to fly to venues around the country like in Germany for example,” said Comitis. “It’s not the case in South Africa. Cape Town teams must fly to Joburg and Durban and vice-versa. So, we will need far more monitoring when dealing with Covid-19.”

The government on Wednesday announced that level 4 of national lockdown will remain in place until the end of May, which has put a damper on the season restarting any time soon.

In about 14 days, the country’s soccer organisations are expected to present the government with proposals of how it will adhere to strict safety protocols determined by health authorities.


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