The FFA have today confirmed that all A-League, W-League and NPL fixtures across Australia will be played, but in empty confines.
This decision follows the news that the government that anyone travelling into Australia must go through a 14-day self-exclusion period to avoid spreading the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
Following their 3-0 loss at the weekend, the struggling Melbourne Victory will not be playing in the next two matches of the A-League season. As they are returning from Wellington, New Zealand, they must enter the self-exclusion program.
As will the Phoenix, who have been instructed to play all remaining A-League fixtures in Australia.
The W-League Grand Final, set to be played between Sydney FC and Melbourne City, will be played behind closed doors with no fans admitted and only players, coaches and registered officials and ground staff allowed entry on the day.
A date has not yet been made official for the Grand Final, leaving open the possibility for postponement of the game should the current situation worsen.
— Football Federation Australia (@FFA) March 15, 2020
All NPL and state league FFA Cup fixtures have been given the green light to go ahead, but with strict safety measures implemented by the FFA in order to reduce the chances of people contracting COVID-19.
This will perhaps have the biggest impact on the game, particularly at the community level.
Soccer at the community level is dependent on its fans and a reliable source of income on game days through ticket sales, food, drink and other means.
Some may feel the more sensible decision for NPL and state league FFA Cup fixtures would be to temporarily postpone, but that’s an argument for another time.
FFA CEO James Johnson had this to say in a press conference earlier today.
“The scale of football means that we have a key role to play in maintaining the health and well-being of Australians, as well as their families and the wider community. We are doing so by allowing people to play, in line with the current Government position but with additional guidance to further improve social distancing at football fields around the country.”
“We have been working closely with our stakeholders, Government health officials and our own chief medical officer to develop our policies for the whole of the game following the COVID-19 outbreak. The situation is subject to constant change, and further measures may be necessary in the future.”
“The health and safety of all members of the football community, including players, coaches, referees, volunteers, administrators and fans continues to be of paramount importance. We will continue to work with the Government and seek advice as the situation changes.”
The half an hour long press conference can be found at the Twitter link above.
The ever-evolving virus has resulted in many decisions such as this eventually overturned in favour of complete postponement. It happened in the Serie A and La Liga in the past few weeks.
Games were allowed to go ahead in empty stadiums, but eventually the remaining fixtures were postponed until further notice.
More recently, the Premier League reluctantly followed suit after news surfaced that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea starlet Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for COVID-19.
Juventus defender Daniele Rugani and Valencia centre-half Ezequiel Garay are two other recent cases of players who have tested positive following the postponement of their respective domestic competitions.
Do you feel the A-League will eventually bite the bullet too? Or are they doing the right thing by trying to get matches played?
Let us know on Twitter @Soccersceneau and get involved in the discussion. Furthermore, don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly newsletter for more news just like this.
But above all else, stay safe during these tough times.