26 January 2022 – It has been more than two years since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world and this has inflicted so much disruption to football business in particular the livelihoods of all people involved in the sport.
As a result, the pandemic has taken away the hype of the game and subsequently made the game to lose its usual vibe.
As the public would recall, SAFA has always been very resolute and steadfast with the fact that football involves human beings and therefore their health and safety is of utmost importance and priority.
The Association has been cautious and has employed cautious and scientific methods in the return of football in general.
The Joint Liaison Committee (JLC) was instrumental in the return of football amidst COVID-19 pandemic, a first on the continent.
The systems and measures put in place led to the staging of a very successful football spectacle in South Africa using the concept of Biological Safe Environment (BSE).
The second phase was the cautious opening up for spectators to safely return to the stadia in a very safe manner, in a pilot project that saw a maximum of 2000 spectators coming through to the stadium for Bafana Bafana’s two international matches last year.
It is important to register that the pilot project was done through the cooperation and help of the Minister of Sport, Arts & Culture, honourable Nathi Mthethwa. The two pilot projects were a great success and lessons learnt there were documented and sent to DSAC.
SAFA has been part of drawing the comprehensive document that is designed by DSAC to guide all sporting bodies on the safe return of spectators to the stadia. The document has been designed in such a way that the spectators return to the stadia in a staggered manner to allow a very safe and cautious approach in order to ensure that the wellbeing of the football loving people is not compromised, notwithstanding the fact that this had to be balanced with their livelihoods.
The DSAC minister has been very instrumental towards the promulgation of the 2000 spectators return to the stadia.
But just before the implementation of next phase, we were hit by another variant called Omicron which is highly contagious. This resulted in the delay to implement the next phase.
With all the systems that have been put in place through the DSAC document, soon we will be seeing more numbers of spectators returning to the stadium in a safe environment. This is however subject to the National Command Council given the green light to the well-researched document put together by DSAC.
As SAFA, we remain committed to the safe return of spectators in a cautious and orderly manner. The safety of our fans is of utmost importance.
It is SAFA’s belief that through the leadership of the honourable minister we will eventually get to full capacity of our stadia in a safe manner without compromising the lives of the football loving people.