Kaizer Chiefs received communication from the Premier Soccer League on Monday, 20 December wherein they declined our request for a postponement of matches following a severe outbreak of Covid-19 that saw 52 of the Club’s personnel test positive for the virus.
Initially, at our first time of writing to the league, we had 31 positive cases, which included a majority of players as well as members of the technical team. As a double consequence of the close contact nature of our environment and the increased levels in contagiousness of the Omicron variant, these numbers increased steadily in the next week. Additional rounds of testing revealed a rise to 36, followed by 48 and then 52 positive diagnoses from the subsequent two weeks’ round of testing.
This increase in numbers indicates that our decision to close our headquarters was a justified and prudent attempt to protect even more people both within and outside our camp from being affected, and, importantly, fell within the established Department of Health protocols for containing an outbreak of Covid.
On advice following consultations with the medical department and management after the initial outbreak in late November, it became evident that the team would not be able to honour their home fixture against Cape Town City on Saturday, 4 December, nor travel to Durban to face Lamontville Golden Arrows four days later. When the medical staff noted a decline in the infection rate and some staff returning to work from quarantine, we were able to honour the next match against Sekhukhune on 12 December.
Kaizer Chiefs is disappointed and taken aback by the contrasting lack of urgency from the PSL after having taken almost three weeks to address the matter. The reason might be that the League did not have a Chief Medical Officer who could have advised those dealing with the issue from an NICD and Department of Health protocols perspective.
The Chief Medical Officer was appointed last week as a result of our submission on the matter of the Covid outbreak. This is key in the times we live in.
The Omicron strain of Covid has affected many countries and sport has been affected all over the world with much lower cases when compared with what we’ve experienced. We are not an exception. Major world leagues, such as the English Premier League, have postponed fixtures during one of the busiest periods in their match calendar in an effort to curb the increase in positive cases.
Chiefs would not have benefited from the postponement in any way as it would have caused unnecessary fixture congestion later in the season for the Club.
We are studying the feedback and will engage our legal department with the view of appealing this unjustifiable decision through the football mother body, the South African Football Association or the Dispute Resolution Committee.
In conclusion, we reiterate that we value the lives of our players, staff, their families, supporters and the country at large. We continue to operate in a safe environment to mitigate danger to people’s health. It must be noted that Kaizer Chiefs has never in the past, nor ever will, take to the field with positive Covid cases, which is contrary to other members who have publicly pronounced that they have played with positive cases in the camp. We are living through a pandemic that is with us for the foreseeable future or until a cure is found and we call for responsible behaviour from everybody to try to limit its effects. In this specific case, we urge the governing structures of football to deal with the situation in a manner that is warranted by these extraordinary circumstances