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We are not going back to the bio-bubble - Dr Thulani Ngwenya

The PSL created a bio-secure environment in Gauteng in August that housed all 32 first and second division teams for six weeks in order to complete all remaining fixtures.

SAFA Chief Medical Officer Dr Thulani Ngwenya. Picture: Twitter/@SAFA.Net

JOHANNESBURG - South African Football Association (SAFA) chief medical officer Dr Thulani Ngwenya says the 2020/21 PSL season will not be played in a bio-bubble after the environment was needed to complete the 2019/20 campaign.

The PSL created a bio-secure environment (BSE) in Gauteng in August that housed all 32 first and second division teams for six weeks in order to complete all remaining fixtures.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing and the new season due to start in October, Ngwenya told the SA Football Journalist's Association that talks have started about having teams play at their own respective provinces.

“The season is not going to be played in a BSE,” he confirmed. “We are not going back to the bio-bubble. We are developing another document where people will be able to enjoy their home and away (advantage)”.

With the country on level 2 lockdown, Ngwenya said traveling would be easier for all clubs.

“Remember, right now, there are travel restrictions within the country, but people can fly, so that then also gives us some sort of confidence that when the season starts people can enjoy the home match advantage. We are definitely not going to a bio-bubble, that I’m sure off.

In terms of how we are going to roll out, the document is being developed and hopefully, it will be shared with the public very soon”.

As for fans, Ngwenya – who served as Safa’s compliance officer as the football association looked to ensure the safe rollout of matches – said there was hope that they could return soon.

“Football is not football without fans and that is my own personal opinion,” he said.

“We need to find a way of getting some fans into the stadium but in terms of when I’m not sure because we are still putting in protocols together. Medically, yes it can be done but logistically, I’m not sure if it’s going to be viable and it won’t create, stampedes and stuff”.

Using FNB Stadium as an example, Ngwenya said even allowing half its capacity could cause problems.

“If we have 20 thousand people that we allow to come to the stadium, then we will have another risk of people who really want to go to the stadium. That’s when you will have fake tickets but when they get to the stadium they will be stopped.

Then it will create another commotion outside the stadium and people will want to push themselves in. Because you cannot see a fake from a distance and you can only pick it up when it's scanned. So that is when it becomes a logistical matter. But medically, with fewer people, it can be done”.

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