Plane-talking Danny Jordaan stands firm on football suspension

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Plane-talking Danny Jordaan stands firm on football suspension

Safa boss uses an aviation analogy, adding that they are also following an international precedent

Marc Strydom
Danny Jordaan says Safa would explain to broadcasting and commercial partners 'that we have to put the health of the players first'.
Fight or flight Danny Jordaan says Safa would explain to broadcasting and commercial partners 'that we have to put the health of the players first'.
Image: Sowetan

Danny Jordaan said the coronavirus is “like a plane taking off”‚ and which “has to be stopped on the ground”‚ explaining the SA Football Association’s (Safa) suspension of all football.

The Safa president has announced a suspension of football until April 4‚ when a further assessment will be made.

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) board of governors were deliberating their next move on Thursday‚ including the possibility of closed-doors matches.

Mother body Safa has made it clear that the suspension applies to all football. But the PSL and Safa have often not seen eye to eye.

The PSL board was being briefed by government officials‚ including deputy health minister Joe Phaahla.

However, Safa and Jordaan pointed out on Wednesday that the international precedent had shown matches played without fans had not been effective in stopping the spread of coronavirus.

“It’s like a plane taking off‚ this virus‚” Jordaan said. “It goes slowly when the plane is on the ground‚ and then it takes to the air‚ and then it skyrockets. And if it’s at a height it may be out of control.

“So we have to stop that plane on the ground. Before it takes off. Otherwise we’ll be in trouble. As far as the broadcasting and commercial partners‚ we will meet with them and explain that we have to put the health of the players first.”

Safa chief medical officer Thulani Ngwenya said the association had a responsibility to play its part in stopping the spread of coronavirus‚ given SA’s high number of immunodeficient people‚ high living density, and the potential for the health system to collapse.

Jordaan said a suspension of football followed an international precedent.

“I’m a vice-president of Caf [Confederation of African Football]. And there was a series of matches we had to consider‚ whether to postpone or not‚” he said.

“The Africa Cup of Nations [Afcon] qualifiers‚ Under-17 World Cup qualifiers‚ U-20 world Cup qualifiers and Chan [Africa Nations Championship].

“In the case of Cameroon for example [and Chan]‚ we asked the medical staff to go to Cameroon and check if we could proceed.

“After studying both reports‚ including the medical reports‚ we decided that Chan‚ Afcon‚ the U-20s and U-17s were postponed.

“At Fifa level South America’s World Cup qualifiers are postponed‚ the Uefa [2020] Euros are postponed‚ the Champions League is postponed. Spain‚ England‚ Italy and France are postponed. China‚ Japan and Korea are postponed.

“These countries did try to play behind closed doors. The result? In Serie A the Juventus defender Dani Rugani‚ positive‚ Sampdoria has six players.”

Fiorentina revealed on Thursday that 10 members of the Serie A club had tested positive, with three in hospital.

“We cannot place the burden on the player to decide whether to play. We have a responsibility to govern football and protect the player,” Jordaan added.

“We cannot sit and discuss with Caf and Fifa to postpone matches‚ and when it comes to our own federation‚ where we see that there is inadequate provision for the players’ health‚ matches must proceed.”

Jordaan said President Cyril Ramaphosa‚ who declared a state of national disaster on Sunday‚ had encouraged social distancing to combat coronavirus‚ which is impossible in a football match.

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