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FFA suspends grassroots football as Wellington Phoenix head to Australia

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17th March, 2020
24

Wellington Phoenix are coming to Australia to complete their A-League season but the coronavirus pandemic has wiped out grassroots football for at least a month.

Wellington officials announced on Tuesday players and officials will fly to Sydney on Wednesday after receiving assurances they will be able to train during a mandatory isolation period after their arrival.

Phoenix agreed on Monday to play out the remainder of the season in Australia, which was the only way for the league to be completed under new travel restrictions during the virus outbreak.

After delaying their travel plans due to concerns the team might not be able to train during their 14-day quarantine, a club statement on Tuesday afternoon confirmed the club’s travel plans were back on.

“The decision to travel to Sydney in an attempt to complete this season, was made as a club,” Phoenix general manager David Dome said.

“We have discussed this amongst ourselves, consulted with health professionals and government bodies in Australia and New Zealand and taken all possible precautions to ensure those travelling are given the best protection possible.

“We are also conscious that the situation is constantly evolving and it may all change again tomorrow, but we are making this decision with the best information we have available at this time.”

It’s understood the club have identified an isolated training facility and given a green light by NSW Health to use it during their quarantine period.

Both the Phoenix and Melbourne Victory, who have begun self-isolation after returning from Wellington on Monday, will have two games rescheduled.

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Dome said there hadn’t been a single complaint from the players and he expected the entire squad to travel, including defender Luke DeVere, whose wife is expected to give birth this month.

While the A-League will continue, there’s no such luck for hundreds of thousands of players across the country with the FFA announcing from Wednesday all grassroots competitions and training will be suspended until at least April 14.

“Today, more schools, universities and also public sporting facilities have announced that they will be closing so we have had to respond quickly to this,” FFA chief executive James Johnson said.

“It is very regrettable that grassroots football will not proceed for the next month, but as a good and responsible citizen, we recognise that our game of approximately 1.96 million participants has a significant role to play in slowing the spread of the virus.”