Spitting during a game, if detected, will now be penalised, the FIFA referees’ committee advised recently.
This is one of a series of hygiene-induced changes that will be implemented when football resumes in the aftermath of the covid-19 break.
Unlike spitting at someone which is a red card offence, spitting (on the ground) will only be punished if the competition organiser decrees. The punishment can be only imposed after the game in which the spitting occurred.
While practical implementation may not be easy, the move will discourage spitting and other unhygienic practices that may expose participants to covid-19 infection
COVID-19 continues to prompt drastic changes on the etiquette of the game of football as stakeholders grapple to contain the virus.
Embracing and shaking of hands as well as use of shared showers have been discouraged because contact increases chances covid-19 infection.
“Football should only occur at a time when all health, social and economic benefits exceed the risks of COVID-19” – FIFA
• appropriate risk assessment must be undertaken
• mitigation policies and substantial modifications must be put in place
• detect, contact-trace and treat cases
• players should arrive already prepared in kit
Resumption of football activities exposes stakeholders to covid-19 infection, but, football bears socio-cultural, economic benefits that can accelerate the healing of nations.
FIFA has crafted a template to guide its members to safely return from the covid-19 induced hiatus, warning that reintroduction of competitions should be in line with local health policies.
When it returns, for a while, football will have to adapt to the anxiety filled environment and adopt a series of prophylactic measures to stop the spread of covid-19.
Embracing during goal celebrations or show of solidarity at the end of matches and shaking of hands both at the beginning and end of games – gestures which make the game a celebration of love, tolerance and competition – will be prohibited.
The pronouncements are part of the extensive but by no means exhaustive medical considerations contained in FIFA’s guide to safe reintroduction of both professional and development football.
FIFA rightly cautions in the document, that the safety of individuals, their families and communities remains the ultimate responsibility of each and every person involved.
Players have to go through a series of tests before resuming training. The first 72 hours before training then another just before the commencement of the training session. More tests will be conducted by clubs’ doctors.
Participants will draw some comfort from knowing that those who test positive are not allowed to play.
Here is a recap of the major changes to the age-old football etiquette that have been proposed to contain possible spread of covid-19 in football.
• No sharing of water bottles
• No spitting or nose clearing on the field
• No embracing
• No handshakes
• Shared changing rooms & showers discouraged