Rabat – Morocco’s Ministry of Health has allowed Moroccan football clubs to play their local league games even if they report COVID-19 infections, as long as they do not exceed six positive cases.
The ministry and the Moroccan Royal Football Federation (FRMF) announced the decision in a joint statement on Thursday, September 10.
The decision aims to allow the smooth running of the remaining fixtures in Morocco’s local league, Botola Pro, especially after the postponement of over 25 games in the past weeks.
Prior to the decision, Moroccan football clubs were prohibited from playing if one COVID-19 case was discovered among their staff or players.
However, to ensure the safety of players despite the new decision, the Ministry of Health imposed more frequent testing.
According to the statement, football clubs now have to conduct daily medical checks for COVID-19 symptoms on all their members.
The daily tests would allow for early COVID-19 detection and quick isolation of the infected players or staff, before they make contact with other teams.
The football clubs must also carry out PCR tests for all their members at least once a week, and then share the tests’ results with the FRMF.
Individuals who test negative for COVID-19 can take part in the matches. Meanwhile, those who test positive will undergo treatment according to the Ministry of Health’s medical protocol.
In the meantime, local football games will only be postponed when more than six members test positive for COVID-19.
Current league situation
The decision is the latest in a series of measures that aim to accelerate the Botola Pro competition, while maintaining the necessary safety requirements against COVID-19.
On August 19, the National Professional Football League (LNFP), decided to confine all Moroccan clubs in hotels or sports centers until the end of the season.
However, despite the measure, COVID-19 cases continued to appear among clubs, causing significant scheduling issues for Morocco’s football organizers.
Botola Pro is currently at its 26th round of competition out of 30. However, the LNFP postponed over 25 games from previous rounds and the majority of clubs are one to four games behind schedule.
The remaining games of the season are of utmost importance for Moroccan football clubs, especially those at the top or bottom of the rankings. They define promotions and relegations, as well as qualification for continental competitions.
Earlier this month, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced that domestic federations must register the clubs to participate in the 2020-2021 continental competitions by November 5, at the latest.
With less than two months before the deadline, Moroccan football clubs will have to play several games per week to finish the ongoing Botola Pro.
Further postponed games might push the competition to end after CAF’s deadline. If that happens, the FRMF will have to think of a new, fairer method to decide on the clubs that will represent Morocco in the continental competitions.