Off-season games give Safa a big headache

By Kgomotso Mokoena

Johannesburg – With the second wave of COVID-19 embedding itself in the country’s wealthy provinces, the SA Football Association (Safa) is nursing a headache in terms of compliance, or lack of, during off-season tournaments.

Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize announced this week that South Africa has entered the second wave of the Coronavirus infections and that Gauteng, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape were the main drivers of escalation.

Safa has received complaints from the public about COVID-19 non-compliance at various unregulated off-season tournaments in the townships and villages.

The organisers of these games have in recent years witnessed attendances skyrocket despite government’s strict regulations that prohibit spectators from attending soccer matches due to level 1 restrictions.

Safa said it had no choice but to cooperate with law-enforcement agencies to make sure that spectators who did not comply with the regulations faced prosecution.

“The games are not sanctioned and most of the spectators are not complying with COVID-19 regulations. We have received safety complaints,” said Safa CEO Tebogo Motlanthe.

“Our message to the organisers is that they must comply by applying to the football structures who will take them through the health and safety protocols. “Failure to do so, we call on affiliated parties like referees, players and officials not to participate [in these games].”

The Department of Sports said people were putting their lives at risk by not adhering to level 1 COVID-19 restrictions.

“From our side, spectators are still prohibited from attending soccer matches,” said Mickey Modisane, the department’s chief director.

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