Professional football could return in South Africa later this month behind closed doors. Football authorities in the country are now speaking with one voice, and have already prepared a document with guidelines they will submit to government in the next couple of days.

The SAFA-PSL Joint Liaison Committee met in Johannesburg about three weeks ago and a six-member task team was appointed comprising of three members from each organisation.

The task team had to come up with tangible dates on when ABSA Premiership and GladAfrica Championship teams may resume training.

But all 32-teams will be subjected to rigorous COVID-19 testing processes before they assemble.

SAFA Chief Medical Officer Dr Thulani Ngwenya says players will also need to be screened for chronic medical conditions.

“We need to know on the first week of screening and testing before they actually go for training. Before they come to the biologically safe environment two days before, 48 hours before they are going to be tested again for the second time, all of them”.

Once teams have tested their players and technical staff, the results will be sent to the medical officers of SAFA and the PSL before players assemble at a selected venue.

The venue will have to be a bio-bubble and will be used to host the remaining matches of the season.

“When testing for the second time they are going to go into a mini camp, where they are going to be kept before they come to the biologically safe environment because that mini camp is essential because after testing them you don’t want them to go back home and be exposed maybe on their way or back home to be exposed to the virus again. So they will be kept in the mini camp and they go straight to the biologically safe environment. And then when now in the biological safe environment, anyone that goes into the biological safe environment is not allowed to go out”.

Initially, mother body SAFA and its professional wing, the PSL, were pulling in different directions on the road back to professional football, until they were urged by Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa to speak with one voice.

SAFA Acting CEO Tebogo Motlanthe says the major thing was to agree on protocols and the starting date. The date has now been given to the president and the chairman of the league. The proposal with be submitted to government for approval.

“As far as resumption date is concerned of course football has made a case to say we have observed different measures but the decision as FIFA had directed previously it must be with the government. So the president of the association and the chairman of the league have been given a mandate to go and meet with the minister and discuss more on resumption.”

In the audio below, Dr Ngwenya and Motlanthe elaborate on this:

 

Football’s world football governing, FIFA, has set a deadline of 31 July for leagues and competitions to be concluded.