PSL chairman Dr Irvin Khoza addresses the media about the suspension of the PSL games at a press conference at the Southern Sun.
PSL chairman Dr Irvin Khoza addresses the media about the suspension of the PSL games at a press conference at the Southern Sun.

‘We must listen to voice of government’ - PSL chairman Khoza

By Bonginkosi Ndadane Time of article published Mar 23, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG – The C word that PSL chairman, Irvin Khoza, mentioned the most was compliance and not the coronavirus when he announced the indefinite suspension of domestic football.

The virus has devastated led to the cancellation, postponement and suspension of many events - including sport. The PSL had no choice but to also react with the number of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 growing each day. 

But what put the PSL in a corner was the directive issued by President Cyril Ramaphosa, prohibiting gatherings of more than 100 people. It’s almost impossible for the PSL to do its job and not have more than 100 people, even if matches are played behind closed doors.

That’s why the emphasis by Khoza was on compliance, stating that the task force and the executive committee will investigate how they can ensure safety of those involved and ensure that their programme “resumes in compliance with the directive issued by the state president, with the support and alignment with the national government”. 

Khoza said: “We suspended our programme because of the state president’s directive. And the question was, do we comply? And the meeting said we comply in terms of the requirements dictated by the president that you can do business if a 100-member limit is taken into account, which we have complied with.”

Irvin Khoza wants to make sure that footballers and supporters’ lives are protected when and if the PSL resumes.

A statement by Minister of Sport, Art and Culture Nathi Mthethwa, that PSL can go ahead with their programme despite the coronavirus being declared a national state of disaster, which hasn’t been disputed by anyone in the government despite its recklessness, could be critical in terms of when football returns. 

Safa has banned football until April 4, when the Fifa calendar for international football ends. What happens next is still unclear, but it does look like the spread of the coronavirus will not be the only thing that determines when the PSL resumes. Khoza did say the right things in terms of protecting footballers’ and the supporters’ lives, but there was a strong emphasis on compliance which hints that should the PSL tick those boxes, then football can resume any time after that.

“For now, insofar as we are doing, we want to understand the regulations and comply because we are dealing with human lives,” Khoza said. “The clubs are exposed to consequences if we don’t take the necessary steps. That’s why we are working in conjunction with the department of health to make sure that we must not make the clubs vulnerable to any kind of claims because this is business unusual, so therefore we must take proper steps. This isn’t only happening to us, but it is happening to all of the workforce.

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“Don’t see us (as) just football people, we are employers and employees. We are part of corporate. The collective understanding is to make sure that we listen to the voice of the government and ensure that things are done properly. 

"We have to make sure that all things are done properly, hence our stance to make sure that we must assist the government in making sure that people comply with the habits of keeping safe by washing hands, avoiding handshakes and all the things that the government is saying we must do.”

Bonginkosi Ndadane

The Star

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