COVID-19 and football in Victoria to May 31, 2020
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Last updated: Monday June 1, 2020

PLEASE NOTE: This document is a guide surrounding the suspension of football and its provisional return. Any specific medical advice surrounding COVID-19 should be sought from official Government Health sources such as the Victorian Government’s official COVID-19 website:https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus.

Please find the latest DHHS advice regarding sport and exercise here.

RETURN TO TRAINING

What club training is permitted training following the Victorian Government announcement on 11 May 2020?

The Federal and Victorian State governments have announced a roadmap to cautiously reintroduce football in a staged approach. The first stage is a limited return to training, at the discretion of each club, from 18 May 2020.

Following this announcement, Football Victoria has released its Return to Training Conditions which outlines the conditions that must be met during this stage in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 - https://www.footballvictoria.com.au/return-football.

These conditions implement the rules announced by the Victorian Government for the purposes of football.

What might happen if clubs or players breach the Return to Train Conditions?

Clubs and players will not be covered by insurance policies and, depending on the circumstances, FV may enforce sanctions under the Grievance and Disciplinary Tribunal Bylaw.

Will players be insured during this revised training format?

Yes. As was the case with the insurance policy that was in place last season, registered players will be insured for bodily injury during club-sanctioned training reasonably undertaken to prepare for the football season. This is subject to the normal policy terms and conditions and on the basis that the training was conducted in line with Return to Training Conditions.

Does the National Insurance Program Personal Accident insurance policy provide coverage if you catch COVID-19?

No. COVID-19 is not a bodily injury as defined under the policy. In the same way the policy would not previously cover people if they caught the flu.

Does the National Insurance Program Public Liability policy provide clubs with coverage?

If a club were the subject of a legal action against it where it is claimed a player, official or spectator caught COVID-19 in FV sanctioned club training, and it is claimed that the club is legally liable including by letting the training continue, then depending on the nature of the claim made, it appears that cover would be available under the Public Liability policy. This is subject to the normal policy terms and conditions and on the basis that the training was conducted in line with Return to Training Conditions.

Please note that the wording above constitutes the insurer’s position on the matter, and FV cannot provide any further “guarantees” about insurance coverage applying in this regard.

Can players train if they are not registered?

No. Players and clubs risk not being insured if they train prior to registration on PlayFootball.

Can I train if I work in health, aged or residential care?

Anyone who works in health, aged or residential care who has taken the recommended infection control precautions, including the use of recommended personal protective equipment (PPE), while caring for a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19), is not considered to be a close contact.

Such workers are, subject to the remainder of the Return to Train Conditions, able to train.

When am I expected to pay my registration fees?

Registration fees are payable either at the point of registration on PlayFootball via an online payment or registration fees can be paid at a later date via your club (i.e. a manual payment within the system). Under a manual payment, your registration takes immediate effect (including for insurance purposes) even though you will physically pay the registration fee at a later date via the Club.  

See below for further information about potential refunds once full season dates are finalised.

What should I do if I catch COVID-19 or suspect that I have it?

As detailed in the Return to Train Conditions, you must not attend training. You should follow DHHS instructions on their website - https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus.

Those with even mild symptoms are strongly encouraged to get tested. For more information, see here - https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/getting-tested-coronavirus-covid-19.

What should clubs do if a person attending the venue has COVID-19 or suspects they have it?

Clubs must refuse entry or send the person home immediately and should contact DHHS for further information about next steps - https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus.

Where can we source hand sanitizer?

FV is working on arrangements to source a bulk supply of sanitizer for clubs. 

We will provide a further update in the coming days.

In the interim, we are aware that there are a number of large supermarkets and retail outlets (e.g. Bunnings) that have a supply of suitable sanitizer. 

Who is responsible for cleaning of facilities/provision of sanitizer?

Clubs will need to make arrangements with the venue owner (generally your Council)  regarding any change to cleaning schedules as a result of the Return to Train Conditions, noting that this may be covered under the terms of your lease.

We would reiterate that FV’s conditions implement the rules announced by the Victorian Government for the purposes of football.

What type of drills can we carry out?

A list of suggested drills can be found here: 
https://www.playfootball.com.au/coach/resources/rebooting-football

Please note: These drills were designed for the first phase of return with 9 players plus a coach, whereas Victorian regulations currently allow for groups of 20 people.

Can Goalkeepers catch the ball during training?

Yes, Goalkeepers can catch/deflect/return the ball via their hands during training, but no heading of the ball is allowed.

Goalkeeper gloves must not be shared and sanitisation must occur before and after use.

Why are other federations allowing smaller training zones meaning more people can train on a pitch?

Federations permit training zones based on the requirements of their respective state governments. Victorian Government has mandated pitches be split into 2 with minimum size requirements.

Is it mandatory to download the COVIDSafe app in order to train?

No. The template attendance form provided in the Return to Train Conditions asks participants to confirm if they have downloaded the app. We encourage people to download the app as a measure to assist with tracing in the event of any positive test.

SUSPENSION OF FOOTBALL ACTIVITIES

What is Football Victoria’s position on refunds for registration fees?

Following on from the FFA’s decision to suspend football activity until 31 May 2020, it is natural that the question of refunds becomes more relevant and it is important for FV to continue to provide information to clubs and participants.

As fans of the game ourselves and with all of us impacted in many ways by COVID-19, we understand the frustration to provide some resolution regarding refunds. We also understand that as custodians of the game, we have a responsibility to ensure football’s continued viability.

As outlined in this release, FV is planning for a resumption of football on those dates (subject to further Federal and State CHO advice), and, once those commencement dates and the full season dates are locked in, the FV refund policy will be published. The FV Refund Policy will include a process and criteria for Hardship applications. 

Any Refund Policy will include the elements outlined in our previous FAQs (as below). 

We are actively planning for reduced season structures which may result in lower costs to participants and apportioned refunds, taking into account costs to date. We particularly sympathise with clubs who similarly find themselves having expended costs and who face calls for the refund of their component of fees.

Club fees cover a range of costs including rent, coaching, equipment, apparel, administration, etc. and these costs must be taken into account when considering a refund position. Much of these costs are incurred before the commencement of the season and therefore a simple apportionment of refunds in line with matches played would not represent a reasonable apportionment. The viability of our clubs is a crucial consideration in balancing the position on refunds for participants. 

Governing body registration fees cover competition-wide costs. Most significantly insurance costs which cover the full year and are (predominantly) paid well in advance of the start of football season. The insurance coverage includes substantial liability protection for clubs beyond simply player injuries. Other costs include the registration system and associated IT platforms, and staff costs to ensure registrations, transfers, fixtures, referees, competitions management, integrity, etc. is all in place to support the game. Again, a lot of these costs are incurred in advance of the season, and this will be taken into account in the final refunds policy.

We will be following up clubs (through the Club Ambassadors) to gain a further understanding of these costs incurred and will ultimately publish a FV policy guide which will include factors and considerations for clubs in forming their own refund policy. 

We also understand there may be circumstances of individual/family hardship and it is up to clubs to make a decision as to whether they refund the club portion of fees in this instance.    

When decisions are made, they will be relayed to the football community as they happen. Our clubs are the lifeblood of our game and we are here before you in total solidarity.

When is football suspended to?

Football Victoria (FV) competitions and FV sanctioned football activities, other than the limited return to training described in the Return to Training Conditions, have been suspended until at least 31 May 2020. This is an extension to the original date of 14 April 2020 and follows a national statement by Football Federation Australia on the evening of 1 April 2020. 

This remains a temporary measure and we remain committed to resuming football as soon as possible.

The Federal Government has indicated that the next phase in a relaxation of restrictions will permit an increase of up to 20 people training. This is to be confirmed by State Government. The following phase is expected to permit full contact competition. See separate announcements on the FV website for information about the provisional dates for competition.

What information has been used to form the decision to suspend football?

FV is taking its advice from both the Federal and State Governments, and their respective Health Agencies and Chief Medical Officers. The football community is being represented by and led by our national governing body, Football Federation Australia (FFA) which is communicating directly with the Federal Government at the highest levels.

This is an unprecedented public health situation and FV will follow the instructions of the Federal Government. 

Why has football made this decision?

Football is determined to be part of the whole of community response to slow the spread of COVID-19–and in doing so, help the broader community and our health systems cope with this emergency. We are united across our sport in making hard decisions necessary to protect the health and wellbeing of the broader football family and everyone involved.

Given the suspension of football to 31 May 2020, can I continue to play or train for football?

Except for training permitted under the Return to Training Conditions, all FV matches, and those of affiliated Associations/Clubs, and other football related activities have been suspended until at least 31 May 2020.

Am I insured if a group of us play/train/have a kick around and I’m injured?

If you play in a match (in any form), or train in a manner which does not meet the Return to Training Conditions, during the period of suspension, these activities are not sanctioned by FV and as such you will not be insured. The National Insurance Program that FV subscribes to, and which provides personal accident cover to you, only applies when you are:

  • Playing in official matches sanctioned by FV or your Association; and

  • Engaged in training sanctioned by FV.

Given the unique circumstances we find ourselves in, our insurers are prepared to cover players under the personal accident policy if they are participating in a formal and official club virtual training/skills session conducted by their coach or another appropriately qualified club official (e.g. a Technical Director) and approved by the club.

Such sessions would need to be conducted by the coach via a platform such as Zoom or Skype so that the coach could supervise the participants.

Further, it would be preferable if the coach used the functionality of the relevant platform to record the session. This is important as the recording can be used to substantiate that the injury was suffered while participating in training of this type. 

During such sessions, we would expect players to be accessing the session individually or in line with current social distancing protocols.

In the case of any injuries suffered during the period of suspension, there will be heavy onus placed on the participant to establish, to the satisfaction of the insurer, that the injury was suffered during the formal and official virtual training/skills session as opposed to any other private football activity.

All online training to children must be delivered in line with FV’s online training guidelines: https://www.footballvictoria.com.au/news/online-training

What is the significance of the #PlayAtHomeChallenge and the #StayAtHomeChallenge?

This is FFA’s attempt to keep children occupied and practicing basic skills and simple drills at home. These activities are designed mostly to be conducted individually (e.g. juggling) and at home in a relatively safe environment. Players are encouraged to conduct these activities with the utmost of care so as to minimise the risk of injury. Further, in order to help the grassroots football community stay active and connected throughout the temporary suspension period, FFA recently launched an online Skills Hub, developed in association with each of Australia’s nine Member Federations. To access the Skills Hub and get involved with the #PlayAtHomeChallenge, please visitwww.playfootball.com.au/skills-hub.

Please note, that these are not official training sessions and as such the personal accident insurance that participants receive as part of their registration to play football does not cover participants for participation in these types of activities and participants do so at their own risk.

Who do I contact if I have further questions?

In the first instance, players, coaches, and parents/guardians should direct their questions to their club, who may in turn contact FV for further clarification.

COMPETITION/LEAGUE STRUCTURES

What does this mean for our Competition and League structures?

Firstly, it is important to recognise that there are various competitions run by FV and our affiliated regional associations across the State. With this in mind, at all levels of our game, organisations are currently working through a range of different scenarios. That said, it is fair to assume that football in 2020 will be vastly different to any other year as the world faces an unprecedented public health emergency.

At this stage, we have only lost a small number of games across the various competitions, and some competitions are yet to even commence. Whilst further games may be lost if the suspension period is extended, further information about this and competition/league structures will be provided in due course.

What does this mean for the draws that have been released?

It is inevitable that the FV competitions team will need to amend almost all competition draws. Competition administrators are currently working through alternative scenarios and any changes will be advised when there is greater clarity about the ability to resume playing football. Many may recall previous seasons in which a significant number of match days were lost due to inclement weather. On these occasions, the season still went ahead with a modified format and, currently, there is still adequate time to play out /and or extend the season to ensure an appropriate competition is completed.

Will FV still run finals series for competitions where this is relevant?

As stated above, the FV competitions team are working through alternative scenarios for the 2020 season to ensure players get to play as much football as possible. Whether or not any amended schedules include a Finals series will be determined in due course when football’s resumption is confirmed.

Is there a cut-off date where the season would be called off?

No. At this stage our expectation is that football will still be played in 2020. The situation we all find ourselves in is highly unpredictable and, as we have seen to this point, it can change at any time. We will continue to take advice from the Federal Government and FFA and then make decisions accordingly.

What about other FV Competitions such as the Dockerty Cup, the FFA Cup and Nike FC Cup?

The FV competitions team is currently working on scenarios that keep these Cup tournaments in the 2020 football calendar. In the case of the FFA Cup, this tournament is administered by FFA and games have already commenced. FV remains in ongoing discussions with FFA in relation to the format the competition will take when football resumes. Further details will be provided in due course.

Will senior and junior competitions with promotion and relegation as part of their competition league structure continue to have this enforced in season 2020?

We are working on planning scenarios that to the best of our ability preserve the integrity of the football season, as such promotion and relegation is currently being factored into all competition scenarios.

As the pandemic evolves and potentially – competition options become limited, the enforcement of promotion and relegation amongst relevant leagues will be continually under review.

OTHER MATTERS

Are FV and Associations still open for business?

Yes. However, most, if not all, staff are working from home during this period. Again, for the general public, and registered participants, the first point of contact should be your club.

I have registered for a Coach or Match Official Education Course / Workshop coming up. Will it be rescheduled?

We will endeavour to reschedule coach education events once the suspension of football activities is over. Registered participants have been contacted and FV is working through the schedule to outline new dates and methods of delivery.  As more information comes to hand, FV is committed to continue keeping its members and all players updated.