Orlando Pirates midfielder Ben Motshwari has become the first player in SA to test positive for the coronavirus. He has since recovered. Picture: BackpagePix
Orlando Pirates midfielder Ben Motshwari has become the first player in SA to test positive for the coronavirus. He has since recovered. Picture: BackpagePix

PSL players must keep their distance to avoid 'spoiling everything'

By Mihlali Baleka Time of article published Jun 25, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - Tread carefully. That was a friendly warning from sports physician and consultant Mahlane Phalane to the Premier Soccer League as they decide on the resumption of football.

Three months after the domestic season came to a halt amid the coronavirus outbreak, government yesterday approved the Joint Liaison Committee’s (JLC) proposal for football to resume in a “biological safe environment”.

The JLC, which is made up of the South African Football Association and its special member the National Soccer League, followed the recommendations of their task team to Minister of Sport Nathi Mthethwa. Now that it’s all systems go, the PSL will make the decision on when and where football will resume.

Considering they are already a month behind their initial deadline to conclude the season, there’s no doubt that the PSL will be eager to get the ball rolling.

But the mastermind behind the “biological safe environment”, PSL medical consultant Phalane says rushed decisions could be catastrophic.

“There are certain things that we cannot rush,” he said.

With everyone due to go into a massive single camp still part of society and susceptible to the virus, there’s still a need for quarantining to take place first.

“We can’t say the incubation period should be less than 14 days. There’s scientific evidence that needs to be collected. There are areas where things can be quick and there are areas where we need to be patient,” Phalane said.

“So we should use the time not necessarily as a delay but rather to refine our plans so that the implementation is seamless.”

Last week, the first round of testing for the virus began at club level. On Wednesday night there were six new positive cases in the Absa Premiership - two at Kaizer Chiefs, three at Stellenbosch FC and one at Bloemfontein Celtic - while in the GladAfrica Championship there were three at TS Galaxy and one at Swallows FC.

Phalane has urged everyone who’ll be part of the camp, especially the players, to continue practicing safety protocols.

“We cannot over-emphasise it enough for individuals, especially players, to ensure that they keep personal and team responsibilities,” he said.

“One lapse in the entire process might just contaminate everything, spoil everything for everyone, and just collapse the situation.

"The message should be simple: Yes, we should rejoice that football will resume, but we should take heed of the warming from Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize when he said, ‘we should brace ourselves for a storm’.”

Meanwhile, the PSL is delighted with the government’s approval for the resumption, vowing that they’ll strive to ensure that everything is carried out according to health and safety protocols.

“The resumption of football has conditions,” said acting PSL acting chief executive Mato Madlala.

"There are some protocols we need to follow, like testing. If they say it can resume, yes, it can resume, but we have to follow certain protocols in order to start.

“From now on, we will have to do the audit of where we are with those protocols that we have to follow as individual clubs. The process of testing at club level has started. Teams know what to do.”


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