Safeguarding children in football
(A message from the FA)
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An update on SDFPL Fixtures
We are living in unprecedented times, with the ongoing outbreak of the Covid-19 virus impacting upon our society and country on a scale not seen for generations. The Football Association have just announced a postponement of all fixtures until early April for all of the professional leagues. However, they have not yet gone so far as to pause amateur football and the decision to continue with playing games or not currently rests with individual competitions.
I wanted to communicate our current stance, but please be aware that as the situation is ever changing, so we will have to be flexible to change if the need arises. Presently, all games within the SDFPL should continue as normal and as planned until further notice. This situation may change and we will continue to monitor the news and advice of the FA, Government and Medical Advisors and will keep teams, players and supporters updated to the best of our ability. Please note, we have considered the driving factors behind the cancellations of other sporting events; we are not playing in front of crowds of thousands, we are not travelling vast distances or over international (or usually even city) borders to play in general, which are all issues affecting the professional game.
We have not yet been made aware of any specific cases of the virus affecting players or staff within our League, but if you do become aware, please let us know through your club management by emailing us with updates. If your teams reach a point where they are unable to play as a direct result of the impacts of the virus, please tell us at the earliest opportunity so we can make plans for rearrangements. If teams agree mutually not to play and wish to rearrange games then this is of course acceptable.
The subject of handshaking has been raised to us through various sources and we will clarify our stance. Football is a contact sport, usually played on muddy fields in various (usually adverse) weather conditions with players in close proximity throughout the game. The fact is that a ban on handshaking is, at best, a symbolic act reflective of the current climate and is really very unlikely to prevent the spread of a viral infection, as evidenced by the complete failure of that strategy within the Premier League. Our stance is that players should observe all of the personal hygiene advice from medical officers, specifically around washing hands and avoiding touching your face/nose/mouth with dirty hands. However, we will not ban handshaking within our league, where Fair Play and gentlemanly conduct are cornerstones of our existence. That notwithstanding, if players are uncomfortable shaking hands then there will be no penalty whatsoever for those players if they prefer to "high five" using their elbows, fist-bump or simply nod in appreciation at opposition players/the referee after or during our games.
We have already extended the season to the 9th of May and have contingency plans in the event of mass-cancellation of games, which we will enact if or when necessary.
Please all, stay safe and healthy and we will update further as the situation continues to develop.