11 May 2020 – It would be a means, as much as anything, of easing the widespread depression and lowering morale that has gripped the country as a result of the deadly coronavirus and its lockdown restrictions.
This is the view of former Peruvian World Cup player and Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates coach, Augusto Palacios, in calling for the resumption of the PSL’s halted competitions – probably sometime in June.
Palacios, currently the Orlando Pirates development director, stresses that any resumption at this stage would need to take place without spectators present, but for the many millions of soccer followers throughout the country – and others with only a casual interest in football – this would be off-set to a considerable degree by the games being televised, while helping take thoughts briefly from the grim crisis that has spread through the country.
“I see depression, low morale and even fear wherever I look,” added the cosmopolitan Pirates development director, “and the resumption of soccer would take the minds of many from the wider issues with which they are faced – if only briefly.”
The urbane Palacios, nevertheless, stressed that any return of games would need to be implemented under strict rules, which include:
– An agreement between the PSL and soccer controlling body SAFA that would receive the approval and consent of the Government.
– All players and officials to be tested for the coronavirus, with those testing positive not eligible to participate.
– A system, with government consent, allowing for a limited relaxation in the travelling of teams.
– The extension of substitutes from the standard maximum of three per game to five – implemented by FIFA as a temporary arrangement.
– A minimum number of officials and workers allowed at games.
In addition, attention needs to be focussed on the leagues expected to be resumed shortly in some European countries as a guide to the process.
Palacios said he had confidence in the PSL’s top administration to devise a plan that would fall in line with government’s efforts to limit the spread of the virus pandemic – and lift the spirits of many who are understandably overwhelmed by their current problems.
“From a purely soccer point of view,” added the Pirates development director, “it would eliminate the potentially unsatisfactory and undesirable situation of abandoning the season without a champion club or one appointed artificially and thereby arousing much controversy.”
And with this in mind, it is worth noting that Kaizer Chiefs, with a four-point lead at the top of the log over defending champions, Mamelodi Sundowns, but having played an extra game, stand out as the top, intriguing contenders.