THE South African Football Association (Safa) has received plenty of criticism from those who feel they are blocking the PSL to resume its 2019/20 programme.
Safa have explained that they don’t want to be blamed for a tragedy – such as the 11 April 2001 at Ellis Park Stadium between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs where 43 people died following a stampede.
According to Safa’s acting CEO Tebogo Motlanthe, the blame for the many deaths was put on Safa’s doorstep by the commission of inquiry, and as a result, they are firm about the safe return to football, especially with COVID-19 currently wreaking a deadly havoc in Mzansi.
Safa said both the Absa Premiership and GladAfrica Championship, suspended in March following the outbreak ofcoronavirus, will resume in the first week of August at a bio bubble in Gauteng.
“We have to ask questions whether the league has complied, instead of everyone throwing criticism. Because government said we expect the report from Safa, there’s no way Safa would take liability for what is happening in terms of the clubs. We are told informally that players are testing positive,” said Motlanthe.
“We have even given an example to say if Safa is wrong or right, let’s remember what happened with the Ellis Park disaster.”
The Ellis Park Stadium disaster was the worst sporting incident in South African history where spectators were crushed to death.
The Ngoepe Commission, appointed by former president Thabo Mbeki to investigate the cause of the stampede, made recommendations to avoid a similar occurrence in the future.
“Safa did not organising the Ellis Park game but when people died, who was made to account? It was Safa. Not the league.
“We’re saying, having learnt from the Ellis Park disaster, things should be done right.
“We don’t want to lose lives again. We’re saying, show us that you have complied.
“Once we have ticked all the boxes, then it’s fine.”
Friction between the two bodies has been playing out since March.
Safa initially said football can resume during alert Level 1 while the PSL argued otherwise, saying football can resume at Level 3 of the lockdown restrictions under strict health regulations.
Those regulations were formulated and both Safa and the PSL submitted them to the government, in this case Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa, who asked them to speak in one voice.
Mthethwa studied the report and gave a glowing appraisal. He gave permission for non-contact and contact sport to resume training in June.
But, along the way, the minister asked Safa to play an overarching role to the professional wing, the PSL.