Safa and PSL clash over soccer match return

In a week of high drama in the upper echelons of local football, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) planned to set the ball rolling by kick-starting the 2019/20 season yesterday, the International Mandela Day, after the elite league was disrupted in March by the spread of the deadly Coronarivus. But it was not to be.

The PSL was gearing up its 32 teams – 16 from the top flight Premiership and the other 16 from the first division, also known as the GladAfrica Championship, to assemble at the Gauteng-based “bio-bubble” camp for the playing of the remaining fixtures, from July 18 to the end of August.

But the SA Football Association (Safa) has red-flagged the PSL’s processes and plans. Safa’s outcry stems from their displeasure in the flouting of the “Return To Football” COVID-19 protocols. Safa had set August 1 as the likely date to resume playing. The protocols to resume sport under strict COVID-19 pandemic health and safety regulations are meant to be enforced by Safa, which has accused the PSL of not involving it and instead dealing directly with the sports ministry regarding kick-off dates.

The professional body’s ambition to return to action on July 18 were dealt a heavy blow, with Safa not convinced of the PLS’s readiness. The two football bodies failed to find common ground this week and have yet to announce when games will resume in order to finish the season.

Here, the main protagonists speak on the three burning issues: What transpired regarding the PSL’s Coronavirus health protocols compliance, dates to restart and end the season and the unavailability of referees.


“Safa’s original position was that the commencement of play was Level 1, however, through the hard work of the Joint Working Group, Safa agreed that the proposal for commencement of 1 August 2020 under Level 3 can be approved subject to full compliance in terms of government regulations. This position has been accepted by Safa for an immediate start on 1 August 2020.”

Safa acting CEO Tebogo Motlanthe

“The delay is not because of referees, referees are just part of the fixture [and dates issue]. There are still outstanding compliance issues. Clubs submitting letters to the NSL [PSL] compliance officer Michael Murphy. Safa has our own two compliance officers. Safa would be liable for any violation (of the gazetted rules). The league says they have a letter [from government] in terms of a return to play and return to training, but there is some concern of what is gazetted.”

Cape Town City chairman John Commitis

“We expected to return around July 21. Safa was completely aware of this at every turn in the meetings in June – they mustn’t talk nonsense‚ because I was in those JLC [joint liaison committee] meetings. And at every turn we tried to pin them down to a date around the middle of July‚ and every time the minutes would come back recording August 1.”

PSL chairman Irvin Khoza

“There have been serious engagements between us and the mother body to make sure that we find a solution. We have submitted the fixture list to Safa and that is what we do every year so that they supply referees. They have taken that correspondence to the compliance officers meeting [last Monday] for discussion and we just have to wait.


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