South Africa’s football governing body, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) on Friday suspended the customary act of shaking hands before matches as a necessary precaution due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
A statement from the PSL said that it felt it was pertinent to advise the management of the clubs and all stakeholders on the importance of the outbreak.
“This advice is to be wary of controllable risks factors. With several teams in the Absa Premiership and GladAfrica Championship, including playing within the continent, we feel it is necessary for us to caution as a League,” the statement read in part.
The statement added that all stakeholders must also limit direct contact with individuals and adhere to strict hygiene standards, including frequent washing of hands, watch how they cough and use of disinfectants when handling public space materials.
The PSL added that the virus is droplet spread as indicated by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Department of Health and the World Health Organisation.
“Again, as communicated by the NICD, there is no need to panic but the precautionary measures as indicated above, are advisable to avoid the spread of the virus.”
The first matches in line to be affected by the new rule were those between Cape Umoya United and Ajax Cape Town in the GladAfrica Championship and Maritzburg United and Polokwane City in the Absa Premiership on Friday.
The move follows a similar one by the English Premier League and English Football League banning pre-match handshakes between both teams and officials until further notice over the outbreak.
On Thursday, South Africa announced that it had detected its first case of the coronavirus, a 38-year-old man who visited Italy with his wife.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged South Africans not to panic and to seek immediate medical attention if they show symptoms of the coronavirus.