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Fans will have to wait a little longer before returning to SA stadiums

04 March 2021 - 16:07 By mahlatse mphahlele
Safa CEO Tebogo Motlanthe says it is too early for the organisation to ask permission to allow fans back into stadiums.
Safa CEO Tebogo Motlanthe says it is too early for the organisation to ask permission to allow fans back into stadiums.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

South African Football Association (Safa) CEO Tebogo Motlanthe says it is too early for Safa to request permission from the government to allow fans back into stadiums.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the cabinet’s decision to move the country from level 3 to level 1 on Sunday‚ sparking hope from football fans that they would soon be returning to stadiums.

Motlanthe explained to TimesLIVE that Safa will not be asking for permission at this stage because it wants to observe the Covid-19 vaccination rollout campaign that started recently with health workers.

“You know what happened last time‚ we went to level one and had to go back to adjusted level three because most people were reckless‚” said Motlanthe. “This time let’s give the government a chance to observe what is happening with this level one because experts are saying that we may end up having a third wave.

“As an association‚ we can’t be reckless and start saying because its level one please bring supporters back. We will wait and observe and see what happens with the vaccination campaign.”

SA Rugby spokesperson Andy Colquhoun said they are engaged in discussions with the government‚ the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) and Cricket SA (CSA) on the safe return of fans.

“We have engaged with government and are also presently aligning with Sascoc‚ the SA Events Safety Council and Cricket SA (CSA) to assist government with a single set of standardised event reopening guidelines to speed the process of getting people back into venues in a timely and safe manner.

“All sports want to see this happen as soon as is possible. We believe with the research that has been done internally‚ and examples of international best practice‚ it can be accomplished in the second quarter of this year but understanding that that is a decision that has to be made against the broader progression of the pandemic.”

Netball SA (NSA) president Cecilia Molokwane said they will be engaging government on the matter.

“We would like to engage the government on this matter. Before we do that we need to ensure that we have our protocols in place to ensure that we save and preserve lives. We need to make sure that we have a foolproof plan before we do so.

“Getting equipment for testing is very important as well‚ for now we need to make sure that we continue to adhere to what has been our new normal before we engage government.

“Telkom Netball League (TNL) is the first tournament we would like to have fans coming back to — this would be our lowest hanging fruit.

“The Spar Proteas and U21s also need the support of the fans in the arena so these are events where we would like to have spectators.

“Actually all of our events would be perfect for spectators. We need the noise and vibrations of the eighth player in the arena.”