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Malta FA introduce new COVID-19 regulations

To seek further talks with authorities over fans’ return

The Malta Football Association has announced amendments to its Return To Play Protocols and COVID-19 regulations as it strives to continue holding matches from its National Leagues in a safe environment.

The football season in Malta started in September 19 with the BOV Premier League but since then the number of COVID-19 cases has been on the rise with a number of matches across all three main championships postponed.

On Tuesday, the Malta FA Executive Meeting approved a number of amendments to fight against the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the new regulations, teams are now obliged to have three goalkeepers in their squad list which remains at 25 players.

“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,” the Malta FA said in a statement.

“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.”

The MFA said that 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,” the MFA added. 

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,” the local governing body emphasised.

“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,” the MFA said.

Fans return

Meanwhile, 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,” the MFA said.

“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.”

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