Based on the experience and feedback attained since the start of the 2020/21 domestic football competitions on 19 September, the Malta Football Association has updated the Return To Play Protocols and the special competition regulations due to COVID-19.
The amendments, approved by the Association’s Executive Committee yesterday, have been necessitated by the fluctuating scenarios and challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the revised regulations, which will come into effect as from Friday, October 30, 2020, Premier League and Challenge League clubs are now obliged to include at least three goalkeepers in their squad list. The minimum number of players in the squad list for the two top leagues remains 25.
Clubs in the National Amateur League must name a minimum of two goalkeepers in their squad list and a match cannot be postponed if one of the nominated goalkeepers is available.
Other important principles in the updated Return To Play Protocols, in addition to those that were in the documents presented in September, include:
• A player who tested positive for COVID-19 will be allowed to return to football following the mandatory self-isolation period and subject to the confirmation of a negative result following a nasopharyngeal test.
• The affected player must repeat the Malta FA medical and fitness test before resuming competitive football.
• All persons at pitchside must always wear a mask throughout the match, excluding the players on the field of play and during the warm-up.
In emphasising the importance of prevention, the revised protocols stipulate that no recovery sessions are to take place in indoor places and the use of ice baths is not permitted while shower facilities and changing rooms are to remain closed.
Ahead of the start of the 2020/21 senior futsal competitions, the Standard Operating Protocols for these competitions have been finalised and added to the Return To Play Protocols.
COVID-19 TEST SCHEME
To further assist clubs dealing with coronavirus issues, the Malta FA has introduced the COVID-19 test scheme. Clubs are entitled to a number of vouchers for free swab tests which can be used by players and/or club staff who develop symptoms after being deemed medium- or low-risk contacts.
The contact-tracing assessment service by the Malta FA medical team has also been extended to the BOV National Amateur League and the BOV Women’s League.
The Executive Committee has conveyed its appreciation for the work of the Association’s medical team and all the departments involved in the contact-tracing assessment for COVID-19 cases and other related issues, both at club and national team level.
CONSULTATIONS ON PARTIAL RETURN OF SPECTATORS
The Malta FA has been studying the possibility of allowing a partial return of spectators for football matches, based on UEFA’s guidelines and taking into consideration the current COVID-19 circumstances.
Earlier this month, UEFA announced that, where local laws permit, spectators can return to the stadia for international matches with the number of spectators capped at a maximum of 30 per cent of the respective stadium capacity.
To this end, the Malta FA has prepared a Safe Return Of Spectators Protocol which comprises risk assessments and health and hygiene requirements. This document will be further discussed with the health authorities and other relevant stakeholders in the coming weeks before deciding on the return of spectators to local stadiums.
While it is impossible to create a completely risk-free environment, the objective of the protocol is to ensure that, wherever spectators can be admitted to matches, the Malta FA will adopt best practices based on medical advice in order to minimise the risk of infection.
The Safe Return Of Spectators Protocol is intended to supplement any measures and recommendations issued by the Public Health authorities.