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PSL pushes pause on football

PSL chairperson Irvin Khoza has announced that all league games scheduled for this week and the weekend have been postponed. A board of governors meeting has been scheduled for Thursday to decide on a long-term response to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The league gathered on Monday afternoon for an emergency executive committee meeting in response to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s national briefing the previous evening. After Ramaphosa’s ban on gatherings that exceed 100 people, it was almost a given that football in the country would not carry on as usual.

Yet Khoza was unable to clear up the muddy waters ahead. He said the league will meet with government officials and health experts to help inform the crucial meeting taking place on Thursday. For now, the suspended games include what would have been a crucial tie between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates.

Aside from the actual matches being put on halt, Khoza said the clubs would not be discouraged from training and usual preparations.

Minutes before the briefing, the SA Football Association released a statement advising all its members to postpone all footballing activities until further notice, including those played behind closed doors.

“Some of the football authorities elsewhere in the world have taken measures such as playing matches in ‘empty’ stadiums without spectators. This response has not proven to be effective in minimizing the spread of the virus,” the statement read. “In Europe, some players who were participating in matches ‘behind closed doors’ have recently been found to be positive. Therefore, we do not believe that the practice of playing behind closed doors is effective.

Most major football leagues around the world have postponed action since Covid-19 was declared a pandemic. As the crisis escalates, difficult questions about what to do with the stalled competitions are expected to intensify.

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Luke Feltham
Luke Feltham is a features writer at the Mail & Guardian

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