Football Federation Australia (FFA) have announced all sanctioned grassroots football competitions and associated training will be suspended for the next four weeks.
This includes the National Premier Leagues’ competitions in each state and territory, with the decision to take effect from today, 18 March, until Tuesday 14 April.
The decision comes after FFA released its guidelines on Monday to combat the spread of COVID-19, with the health and wellbeing of the football and wider community in Australia a top priority.
FFA CEO James Johnson explained while it was a disappointing decision to make, it was necessary to reduce these community gatherings to help slow the spread of the virus.
“Our decision today follows extensive discussions with all of Australia’s nine State and Territory Member Federations, taking into consideration the latest feedback from all levels of the football community,” Johnson said.
“We are also taking into consideration the ongoing response by both the broader international and Australian communities which is evolving almost on an hourly basis now.
“We also recognise that there have been some recent material developments which have changed the landscape significantly, including the decisions made by the Victorian and ACT Governments to declare States of Emergency late yesterday afternoon. Today, more schools, universities and also public sporting facilities have announced that they will be closing so we have had to respond quickly to this.
“It is very regrettable that grassroots football will not proceed for the next month, but as a good and responsible citizen, we recognise that our game of approximately 1.96 million participants, has a significant role to play in slowing the spread of the virus.
“More Australians play grassroots football than any other team sport in the country and we have been able to listen to the voice of our community, through the establishment of the National COVID-19 Working Committee and our Guidelines, who have expressed a desire to contribute more to the nation at this time through a unified and Whole of Game response.
“As a game we need to be responsive and agile in how we deal with this situation, and we are working together around the clock to deal with this challenge. We will continue to assess our position regularly to ensure that it is reflective of the most accurate state of affairs and views of the game.
“I would like to acknowledge how Member Federations have worked so constructively with FFA, through the Working Committee and established Guidelines, to arrive at what is right for our players, coaches, officials, their families and the wider community. We are meeting on a daily basis and will continue to do so, taking into account the latest Government medical advice and community sentiment.”
FFA will continue to make further updates before 14 April, 2020.