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Return to Play Protocol sees 90% of matches delivered, Malta FA says

The first two months of the 2020/21 domestic football season have been very challenging but the MFA Return To Play Protocols have been instrumental in minimising the risk of COVID-19 through the implementation of the appropriate health measures and guidelines while allowing the competitions to continue with the least possible disruption, the Malta FA said in a statement.

While the fluctuating COVID-19 situation was always going to have an impact, the MFA was able to deliver close to 90 per cent of the scheduled matches across the National Football Leagues and the Women’s League as on November 6, 2020.

Commenting on the subject, MFA President Bjorn Vassallo: “While we were fully aware of the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, our health and operational protocols have enabled us to restart the football competitions.

“Although, in the current circumstances, it is impossible to create a completely risk-free enviroment, the measures we have put in place have helped in no small measure to safeguard the health and safety of those involved. The protocols have also enabled the effective management of positive cases.

“This whole operation entails a massive effort from our medical team and all the relevant departments while the co-operation of the clubs and other stakeholders is also crucial.

“The Malta FA remains fully committed to adhering to the established protocols and supporting our clubs but the situation is still very challenging. We must continue to exercise caution and respect the measures and guidelines laid out in our protocols and those issued by the Public Health.”

The contact tracing process set out in the MFA Return to Play Protocols as agreed with the Public Health Authorities played a crucial role. According to the MFA, the association’s medical team performed 40 contact tracing assessments across all senior leagues.

Only five per cent of the players included in the clubs’ squad lists have tested positive for COVID-19 as on November 6, 2020 while 68 per cent of the players were not obliged to go into quarantine as a result of the meticulous contact-tracing assessments conducted by the Malta FA medical team.

In the BOV Premier League, only five matches had to be rescheduled up to the end of matchday seven, equivalent to 9 per cent of the total. The number of rescheduled matches in the other competitions up to November 6 were:

BOV Challenge League – 7 out of 49 fixtures (14%)

BOV National Amateur League – 2 out of 20 (10%)

National Amateur Cup – 1 out of 8 (12%)

BOV Women’s League – 14 out of 15 matches played  (one match rescheduled due to Birkirkara’s UEFA Women’s Champions League commitments)

Last week alone, the Malta FA Medical Team also administered 179 rapid COVID-19 tests – 175 tested negative and only four (2%) resulted positive. 

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