SAFA hits back with FINAL call on PSL matches

South African Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan has taken a strong stance against the government's directive to allow Premier Soccer League (PSL) matches to continue amid coronavirus outbreak.

The Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa gave the go-ahead on Tuesday for domestic football to continue behind closed doors with certain safety measures in place after holding a meeting in Pretoria with the relevant stakeholders.

On Wednesday, Jordaan called for an urgent press conference to address the media and reiterated that no football should be played until at least 4 April - the date given by the SAFA president.

"Our position is the interest and health of the players because for us that comes first," Jordaan said in Johannesburg.

"We have seen around the world that all matches are postponed. We cannot go against what is happening.

"Our position is clear, that all matches are postponed. SAFA has decided that there are no matches. It is not possible to play."

Jordaan, who was scheduled to have a meeting with Irvin Khoza, revealed that the PSL chairman was not available to discuss the matter further.

"I was supposed to meet the chairman at 09:30 today (Wednesday), but he indicated that he was no longer available," Jordaan said.

At the press conference, Bafana Bafana doctor and SAFA medical officer Dr Thulani Ngwenya was also present and has backed SAFA’s stance in the suspension of all matches.

"We only have five clubs in our National League with full-time sports physicians, therefore it becomes very difficult to know the conditions of most players. Football is also a physical contact sport. There will always be contact (between players)," said Ngwenya.

"There are the dressing room habits of singing dancing and hugging. Football players touch all the time, whether it's the shoulder, arms or something else.

"We have had situations where games have been played behind closed doors but it's not effective. Therefore, we don't support playing behind closed doors.

"Just think what would happen if one player gets infected. It will spread and we will have a serious challenge."

The virus sweeping the globe has brought a grinding halt to sport and SAFA had advised all members to suspend all football matches and events attended by more than 100 people.

On Monday, the PSL held an "urgent meeting" with its executive committee following President Cyril Ramaphosa's address to the nation on Sunday evening.

After that meeting, Khoza announced that all matches in the Absa Premiership, GladAfrica Championship and the Multichoice Diski Challenge were to be suspended.

However, Khoza argued during his address that there will be problems if the season is not played until the end.

"I raised some of the issues in my press conference on Monday, which relates to promotion and relegation - how you determine that. There are a lot of headaches that go with it, so let us act in a way that will assist us (in) solving the problem," Khoza, who is also the Orlando Pirates chairperson, said.

"I am still saying that don't remove the voice to assist in conveying the message about this pandemic."

- Compiled by Tashreeq Vardien

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