Absa Premiership

Coronavirus | SAFA does a backflip

Orlando Pirates (Gallo Images)
Orlando Pirates (Gallo Images)
It can be described as an ironic, if thought-provoking backflip, with SAFA on Monday reversing the view expressed on Saturday that the domestic football programme in South Africa should not be suspended or postponed.

It is a total reversal, of course, that was prompted by the stark proclamation of President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday which among the many varied restrictions to fight the coronavirus that is tormenting the world, declared that all sorts of meetings and functions in the country should not be enacted at this point with more than 100 persons present.

Ramaphosa's restrictive, wide-encompassing retort also prompted the PSL into immediate action, with the key, eagerly-anticipated Absa Premiership midweek games between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates and Bidvest Wits and Kaizer Chiefs, as well as the entire weekend programme, suspended following an emergency meeting of the League's executive on Monday.
A further meeting on Thursday at which all the PSL clubs will be represented, will decide on what wider course the billion-rand professional soccer organisation should follow in the wake of many of the sporting codes in South Africa following international examples and going into hibernation for periods of a month or two - with no one quite sure what would follow afterwards if the life-threatening virus shows no signs of abating.

But the initial stance of SAFA is worth examining, if not accepting as justified and legitimate in the existing climate and herein is what SAFA had to say with unequivocal assurance.

"It is our considered view,'' proclaimed SAFA, "that there is no need to panic at this stage. The coronavirus is not an epidemic in South Africa yet.

"We are positive," continued SAFA, "that the situation will improve rather than worsen and we believe that there is no need to either suspend or postpone the football program in the country at this stage."

PSL chairperson Irvin Khoza, widely known as "The Iron Duke", was quick to assert support for Ramaphosa's policy declaration and after correcting an initial comment that the President had announced 200 could attend events, Khoza reiterated that the PSL's Board of Governors would map out an exact course to follow in the immediate troublesome future after consulting with the government.

The choice for the PSL at this stage seems either to play games in front of empty stadiums or extend the embargo of matches for a further period.
SAFA, for their part, have fallen in line with Ramaphosa right now. But in view of their earlier comments, what do they truly think?

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