Weekend matches fall victim to Covid outbreak
Local football has again been impacted by the Coronavirus, which has wreaked havoc on the schedule this weekend.
The Premier Division matches pitting PHC Zebras against Devonshire Cougars and St George’s against Devonshire Colts, were both postponed due to an outbreak of Covid -19 among the ranks.
PHC were due to host Cougars at PHC Field on New Year’s Day but was postponed in the final hours leading up to the 3pm kick off.
“Please be advised the match scheduled between PHC and Devonshire at PHC has been postponed,” Ajani Tucker, the Bermuda Football Association’s Head of Marketing and Sponsorship, confirmed in a press release.
“There was positive Covid test within a team and in accordance with our Covid policy the match was postponed. The rescheduled date is yet to be confirmed.”
The BFA also announced the First Division match between Paget and Vasco at Southampton Oval on New Year’s Day was also postponed but did not provide reasons even after being approached by The Royal Gazette.
Meanwhile, the league schedule was further impacted when the BFA announced that the Premier Division contest between St George’s and Devonshire Colts at Wellington Oval today, has also been postponed after several of the visiting team’s players tested positive for Coronavirus.
“Please be advised that the match at Wellington Oval between St George’s versus Devonshire Colts has been postponed as Devonshire Colts have confirmed that several players have tested positive,” Tucker confirmed. “The Competitions Committee will advise the rescheduling of the match in due course.”
When contacted, a BFA source said the executive will not be commenting on the matches that were postponed this weekend today.
Local football was first impacted by the pandemic when the 2019-20 season was brought to a halt in March 2020 with a round of league fixtures and the FA Cup Final remaining.
The 2020-21 season lasted until December 6, 2020 when a second wave of Covid-19 again brought proceedings to a halt and ultimately spelt the end of the campaign, which was confirmed three months later.
The pandemic also forced the cancellation of the Charity Cup and Dudley Eve Trophy competition in September and delayed the start to the 2021-22 season until October 30.
The latest spike in Coronavirus cases has prompted the government to impose further restrictions at sporting events.
The new requirements include additional protocols for large group exemptions, while spectators are now also required to present a negative antigen test for access.
“These have been very trying times for many sectors in our community,” Ernest Peets, the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports said last month.
“Cultural and sporting events have been severely impacted and it is very disheartening to me, personally, to have to consider further restrictions to already stretched sectors that are so important to Bermuda’s social, mental and physical well-being.”
Peets emphasised that the steps were necessary to ensure that every effort was being made in the interest of the public’s health and safety.
Prior to the tightening of restrictions and safety protocols, players and officials were required to have an antigen test before kick off, with strict separation of players, officials and spectators being enforced at games. They are also required to be at grounds at least two hours prior to the start of matches.
The restrictions an protocols have come in for criticism among the sport’s stakeholders and have taken toll on the island’s sporting clubs, who are struggling to make ends meet financially in the pandemic.