KARACHI: The Pakistan Football Federation may have decided against conducting COVID-19 tests of all the participants before the start of the 13th National Women Football Championship but a top PFF official says that the federation has put “everything that it could afford for safeguarding the health of players and officials.”
Daniel Limones, the director technical of Pakistan Football Federation, told Geo News that it was important to organise the tournament amid a pandemic for the development of girls but added that it will be suspended immediately if any cases of COVID-19 are reported amongst the players.
“The protocols are those that we can afford to implement. Obviously, there are going to be sanitisers at the entrance of the ground that the players and the coaches are bounded to use, the masks are going to be mandatory in the dugout whenever someone is seated in the dugout because social distancing measures are going to be difficult,” he said ahead of the opening of the tournament.
“We have to make sure that the championship takes place because it’s the most important thing for girls’ development,” said the Spaniard.
When asked why there is no pre-tournament COVID-19 testing, he said that the practice has not been made mandatory by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), and it was up to the member association whether to conduct the test or not.
“We have decided that following the coronavirus standard operating procedure (SOPs) mandated by the government will be enough because, inside the football ground, there aren’t any issues,” he said.
“The issues or the risks are outside the ground, and if everyone is doing what they have to do, then tests are not needed,” he insisted.
Daniel added that the tournament will be stopped if there any coronavirus cases are reported and the games will be resumed only after reviewing things because the safety and the health of the players is very important to the PFF.
“After reviewing and assessing the situation, we will decide if we have to resume the tournament after two or three days or we have to cancel or postpone it for another date,” he mentioned.
The PFF director said that it is everyone’s responsibility to do what they’re supposed to be doing to avoid the spread of COVID-19, adding that he trusts that participants of the tournament will obey the SOPs.
“If everyone is following the protocols then I think everyone is going to be safe,” he said.
He also confirmed that a good amount is also paid to the teams participating in the tournament to manage their travel and accommodation and teams are happy with this arrangement.
Daniel Limones said that if girls are not provided proper accommodation, then it is a concern for everyone and if any such situation arises, then the PFF has set up a 24/7 helpline for the players where they can register their concerns.
“We have provided the girls with an emergency phone number that is going to be operated 24/7 so that they can lodge complaints regarding their safety, health, or any other issues, such as harassment,” he said.