A proposal to see the partial return of spectators to football matches has been shot down by Maltese Health Authorities.
Last month, the Malta Football Association presented a set of protocols outlining best practices for allowing spectators to be admitted to matches. This comes after months of pressure by local fans to return in a similar fashion seen in other professional football leagues across Europe.
The proposal was at the whim of the health ministry who, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, shot it down.
“Unfortunately, the idea of fans returning back to stadiums was not accepted by the authorities and all those who follow local and national football ended up back to where we were,” the South End Core, Malta’s most local football fanbase, said on Facebook.
“We wanted to meet you and see you again after these difficult times and together enjoy a bit of the positive performance the Maltese national team is going through,” it said.
Last month, Malta was crowned FIFA’s “Biggest Climber” in world rankings courtesy of a four-game streak where the country recorded no losses.
The national team will resume its duties this Wednesday against Liechtenstein, which will also mark legendary footballer Michael Mifsud’s last game with the team, before squaring up against Andorra on the 14th and Faroe Islands on the 17th in the second round of the UEFA Nations League qualifiers.
“We apologise to the players for not being present for these very important matches,” it continued.
“We had wonderful plans that unfortunately for the time being we have to put back on the shelf.”
The South End Core had proposed its own set of protocols for the return of fans to the stadium in the lead up to the pivotal decision, which included health and safety measures based on UEFA guidelines.
While acknowledging the decision, the fanbase was critical of it nonetheless.
“Our message was clear. After certain decisions were taken one wonders whether we are living under the same regulations.
One wonders whether we are living under the same regulations after certain decisions were taken. Whether an indoor event is accepted and an outdoor event is not, we cannot understand it and we will continue to press until we get back what we want,” it said.
“We had a chance to use the national team games as an experiment to implement measures in local leagues, but now nothing.”
During the past month, Malta has imposed further nation-wide restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 including a six-person limit in public spaces.
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