Johannesburg – Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa has been the subject of social media criticism over his decision on Tuesday to allow Premier Soccer League matches to go ahead behind closed doors.
This comes as South Africa’s Covid-19 cases continue to grow, with the figure now at 116 positive cases.
Announcing that PSL matches could go ahead, but without any spectators Mthethwa on Tuesday, said: “As we speak, they can have their match tomorrow with no spectators.”
Mthethwa added that even if a point was reached whereby there would be no matches that point would be gradually phased in.
Mthethwa’s granting of the green light for local top flight action to proceed behind closed doors on Tuesday comes despite Irvin Khoza, chairman of the country’s top flight football body the Premier Soccer League, on Monday announcing the suspension of all football fixtures for this week and the weekend.
Mthethwa’s decision has been the subject of much criticism and ridicule on Twitter with some users of the popular platform even referring to it as reckless and irresponsible.
Mthethwa has also been criticised for saying that the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) was irresponsible for announcing on Tuesday that the Ultimate Human Race would go ahead pending a decision to be made on 17 April.
Mthethwa said that the CMA’s statement had been irresponsible.
“It was an irresponsible statement that was made earlier today by Comrades Marathon that they will go on like nothing has happened. We want to reiterate that nothing will go on. Comrades Marathon will never go on,” Mthethwa said.
Some on Twitter say that the decision could leave players and match officials exposed to contracting the virus as soccer is a close contact sport.
Infusing humour in their criticism of Mthethwa’s decision to allow PSL matches to go ahead behind closed doors, (@unofficial_mozi) wrote: “Minister of Sport Nathi Mthethwa has a Betway account there’s no other way.”
Minister of sport nathi mthethwa has a betway account there’s no other way😷 https://t.co/mZEvpKTLzF
— משהa (@unofficial_mozi)
March 17, 2020
@SaMamapago said: “Nathi Mthethwa is a lazy thinker, why recommend something that has proven to be a failure? European leagues tried playing matches behind closed doors, players & staff still contracted the corona virus.”
Nathi Mthethwa is a lazy thinker, why recommend something that has proven to be a failure? European leagues tried playing matches behind closed doors, players & staff still contracted the corona virus
— Kingducer (@SaMmapago)
March 18, 2020
@Percydezmon wrote: “Nathi Mthethwa is an idiot. Valencia players contracted Covid-19 playing behind closed doors against Atalanta.
People must hide their ignorance/stupidly.
A grown a** man.”
Nathi Mthethwa is an idiot
Valencia players contracted covid-19 playing behind closed doors against Atalanta
People must hide their ignorance/stupidly
A grown ass man pic.twitter.com/bLPZAilm4x
— Controversial (@Percydezmon)
March 18, 2020
Lesilo Rula (@kay_mahapa) wrote: “F***ed up thing about Nathi Mthethwa & those in leadership choosing to continue with PSL games is that they are not the ones at risk. If anything goes wrong, they’ll just release statements while the players & their families deal with the effects that follow.”
Another Twitter user, Clinton (@Nkgadimaclinton), said: “This decision by Nathi Mthethwa will end in tears.”
Thando (@tidoo), tweeted: “O-Nathi Mthethwa are way irresponsible. They almost thinking that some people are exempt from this virus. What happens when one official or player gets infected? They’ll just isolate those and continue with the program? On the other hand other codes must cancel their events?”