“Players should be part of discussions on future of football leagues”

Soccer ball
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The South African Football Players’ Union (SAFPU) says players must be part of discussions about the future of football leagues across the continent. This following the disruption of fixtures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The players’ union was amongst football parties which debated football in Africa in view of the pandemic at the virtual African Football Forum summit over the weekend.

SAFPU president Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe says governments must provide stimulus packages.

“The Sports, Arts and Culture Minister, Nathi Mthethwa says players must go to training but he also mentioned the issue of being quarantined for 14 days world-wide. The players must be part and parcel of this discussion. Because [if] it could not talk about those things, we will have a problem. We will be forced [into] a situation where if the league has to be canceled, we will need a serious stimulus package from government to be able to inject the money and other stakeholders. I don’t think we have that in the continent,” adds Gaoshubelwe.

Meanwhile, a sports lawyer, Farai Razano says there are many competing interests in African soccer which make it difficult for associations to decided one way of finalizing the leagues.

“There so many competing interests that make it very difficult for most of these clubs and associations to pick one way of finalizing the league over the other. In Belgium, for instance, there was one game and there were amenable points. South African league as it stands, you [have] competing interests at the top [in terms of ] who wins the league and at the bottom as well [as teams fighting to avoid relegation],”explains Razano.

Non-contact sport can resume under Level 3 lockdown: Mthethwa

Meanwhile, Mthethwa says all professional non-contact sport can resume, however, without spectators under Level 3 of the nationwide lockdown.

Addressing the media in Pretoria on Saturday, Mthethwa says all professional athletes who participate in contact and non-contact sport can start training from Monday.

The Minister says within the next two weeks sport managers will have to write to the Department detailing a plan of activities, also giving the assurance that athletes and technical staff will be tested for the coronavirus prior to the resumption of activity.

Sports governing bodies and clubs must appoint a COVID-19 compliance officer to ensure all health and safety protocols are followed when they resume training.

Mthethwa says all hygiene and social distancing protocols must be adhered to.

“Non-contact sport and training for professional athletes may resume in compliance with the health protocol without any spectators. All sports bodies must within 14 days inform the minister in writing as to the date of resumption and further provide an operational guideline including a guarantee in the form of affidavits related to the testing of all officials before resumption for training and matches,” says Mthethwa.

Below is a briefing by Sport and Arts Minister: