When the national lockdown reaches level one that’s when football, and other sport, will likely resume.
FOR now, it is quite improbable to call the South African domestic season off and crown log leaders Kaizer Chiefs champions.
This is the view of the South African Football Association (Safa), who say their aim is for the season to be completed once the coronavirus pandemic settles down.
It’s been almost two months since football came to an abrupt stop following the outbreak of the coronavirus.
As the number of confirmed cases continues to increase, a lot of uncertainty hangs over the future of football in the country.
In countries such as the Netherlands, the domestic season has been declared null and void, meaning that champions won’t be crowned, while there’ll be no promotion nor relegation. In France and Belgium, though, the leagues were called off and leaders Paris Saint-Germain and Club Brugge were respectively crowned champions.
In the English Premier League they have dragged their feet in making a unanimous decision on the resumption of the league, despite Liverpool having a 25-point lead in their quest to end their 30-year wait to be crowned champions.
In the Absa Premiership, Chiefs have only a four-point lead over defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns, who are second and have a game in hand.
It is for such reasons that Safa president Danny Jordaan says when the national lockdown reaches level one that’s when football, and other sport, will likely resume.
“The curve is spiking again. Death and infections are increasing. We can also not say that we are going to play while the curve is going up. It’s not in our hands really,” Jordaan said in an interview with IOL Sport this week.
“In the English FA, Liverpool are 25 points clear of rivals Manchester City. They are saying if they play behind closed doors and Liverpool wins, there’s a minimum of 70,000 supporters that will go to the streets and celebrate – now where’s social distancing?”
Locally, it’s been five years since a trophy graced the cabinet in Naturena. And such has been their resurgence this season that the supporters of the biggest club in the country believed that they would return to the pinnacle of South African football.
Further, Amakhosi celebrated 50 years of existence in January, something that has galvanised the team to be crowned champions.
The country is on level four of the national lockdown where the movement by ‘non-essential workers’ is limited. The sale of alcohol and tobacco continues to be banned. However, on level three those regulations will likely be lifted.
Knowing what’s at stake, and Chiefs having the most followers in the country, Jordaan says that randomly crowning the Glamour Boys might have a negative impact on the supporters who’ll go wild in their celebrations.
“You can’t just look on the field but you must also think of the spectators. If Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates play behind closed doors the 90,000 supporters that were supposed to get to FNB Stadium, where will they go? Are they sitting at home? They’ll go to the shebeens and taverns,” Jordaan insisted.
“If Chiefs win the league, the supporters will go to the street and go crazy. It’s a complicated thing. That’s why you must think about all these things. That’s why you can’t just say you must ‘sanitise the stadium, test people and players before they go to the stadium’.”
On Thursday a dark cloud engulfed South Africa as Pirates player Ben Motshwari tested positive for Covid-19. The PSL medical doctor, Mahlane Phalane, however, insisted that this first confirmed case of a professional footballer testing positive for the virus would not influence the decision on the resumption of football.