MFA chief disappointed at health authorities' failure to consult over ban on elite sport

MFA President Bjorn Vassallo says despite the association going the extra mile in adopting preventive measures, health authorities refused to consult with them over COVID-19 restrictions that stopped elite sporting activities

MFA President Bjorn Vassallo expressed disappointment that the association was not consulted by the health authorities
MFA President Bjorn Vassallo expressed disappointment that the association was not consulted by the health authorities

Malta Football Association President Bjorn Vassallo has expressed his disappointment at the health authorities’ decision in refusing to resume elite sport competitions.  

Vassallo was addressing a press conference after Hamrun Spartans FC were crowned BOV Premier League champions for the 2020/21 season after COVID-19 restrictions led to the competition being stopped.  

He said that while the association respects the fact that the situation is a difficult one, and one must not be insensitive to the victims, it would have appreciated being involved in discussions over the decision.  

“The association made an analysis, compiled a report and then presented proposals, and yet we were not acknowledged by the health authorities. If you don’t speak to us, I can’t see how we can collaborate. No, we were not consulted,” he said.

The MFA President said that clubs in the Premier League and Challenge League have more than 1,000 full-time contracts, with a turnover of €8 million. “We are speaking about the livelihoods of people here,” he said.

Vassallo said the MFA had gone the extra mile in implementing preventive measures, with the association going as far as employing 11 doctors for contact tracing purposes.  

He said that the Maltese authorities did not allow the MFA to implement a similar system like the one used by foreign leagues.  

Clubs in foreign leagues were required to present a negative COVID-19 test to their respective associations before every match day.

“We are very disappointed, we didn’t even have an indication of what would happen,” he said.

READ ALSO: Hamrun crowned Malta football champions after competition is ended because of COVID restrictions

On Wednesday, government announced its plan for the gradual lifting of restrictions but sports activities were not included in the timeline announced up to the 26 April.

Football tournaments could not be concluded in time to meet UEFA deadlines unless they were allowed to continue playing.

Vassallo's disappointment was shared by several other sport administrators, who felt that elite athletes should have been allowed to continue training and playing subject to strict protocols.