The first week of August is proposed as the starting date for National Soccer League (NSL) matches.
This comes after the South African Football Association (Safa) worked on processes outlined in “the return to play” protocol which was submitted to and agreed to by the government.
On 10 July 2020, the Safa working group met their PSL counterparts to deliberate and finalise the date on the resumption of play.
The meeting continued on 13 July where it was noted that:
- According to the referees sub-committee of the technical committee, the first week of August 2020 is the appropriate date for the commencement of NSL matches.
- The choice of Gauteng Province as the host of training and match venues, as well as hotels, was agreed to by the government and NSL and that Safa had no input to this process.
- The 110 match officials will be subjected to medical and mandatory fitness tests. The medical examination specifically entails testing for COVID-19 and those who test negative would be required to undergo a mandatory 14-day fitness test under the guidance of the Fifa-approved fitness trainer. A Fifa fitness consultant participated in the discussion.
- The fitness trainer initially wanted a three-week fitness period but both parties mutually agreed on an accelerated period of training of two weeks in order to meet the beginning of August start date.
Subsequently, the government issued a regulation in terms of the Government Gazette.
On 11 June 2020, the Minister of Sport sent a letter to Safa that they should appoint the compliance officer to oversee the entire process of return to training and return to play protocols.
Safa then appointed Dr Thulani Ngwenya and Mlungisi Ncame as the compliance officers to liaise with the NSL.
It was further agreed that the two teams from the association and NSL, comprising of the respective CEOs and compliance officers, work together on processes for the resumption of football, both for training and play.
In a report submitted by the League on 13 July, the league confirmed that they have done extensive work to ensure that clubs return to training in compliance with the directives issued by government and in terms of the decisions of the Safa JLC.
In the meantime, once the compliance officers have completed their report, it will be submitted to the government to gazette on the return to play date.
The world football governing body Fifa has accepted that it is the government’s responsibility to approve the return to play date and Safa will update Fifa on the progress achieved.