Table 1

Summary of a COVID-19 mitigation plan for international football competitions in Africa

Areas of interventionCharacteristics/important notesAthletes/staffSpectators
Programmatic level
Design and develop a handbook on COVID-19 mitigation strategies
  • It should be practical, short and concise.

  • Cover all the organisational and technical aspects.

  • Written in a simple language.

  • It should include strategies to mitigate the risks both in athletes, staff members and spectators.

  • It should be implemented by all clubs/teams, officials and other stakeholders involved in the competition.

Put in place a specialised team to coordinate the implementation of the risk mitigation strategiesThe team should include experienced sport physicians, epidemiologists, virologists, infectious disease specialists, biomedical technicians and representatives from the Ministry of Public Health and sport federations.
Selection of the stadia where the competitions will take place
  • Selection based on whether it is possible to implement prevention measures (maintain physical distance, control the flow of spectators).

  • Selected in areas/neighbourhoods with available facilities for COVID-19 testing, quarantine, isolation and case management.

Hand sanitation stations to be easily available.
Health facilities involved in the planning should be clearly identifiedAll the selected health facilities should be trained and briefed on their specific responsibilities.
Maintenance of physical distance
  • The distance should be based on scientifically sound and internationally recognised recommendations.

  • Seats should be labelled accordingly.

  • Limit unnecessary staff members interacting with the team.

  • Limit the number of spectators (especially if unvaccinated).

  • Guide spectators on the correct seating order in the stadium.

Use of face maskFace masks should be standard and validated.All athletes should wear a face mask when indoors or not playing.Require use of face mask for staff members and spectators all the time.
Education on COVID-19 prevention measures and signs and symptomsShould use both the mass media and the posting of messages/symbols in various strategic areas of the stadium.Education should target the athletes, the staff members and the spectators.
Biosafety and decontamination
A trained team designated for disinfection should be put in place in each of the areas of the stadiumThe team should be led by an expert in biosafety.
Hand disinfection at the entry points
  • Hand washing stations (with liquid soap) should be placed at the entrance of the stadium.

  • Alternatively, hands should be disinfected by an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

All the athletes, staff members and spectators entering the stadium should disinfect their hands.
Disinfection of the potentially infected areas of the stadium (ie, higher density seating areas)
  • All the potentially infected areas should be disinfected after each game.

  • Perform using appropriate personal protective equipment (gloves, face masks, eye protection and coats).

Must be vaccinatedMake use of any of the COVID-19 vaccines.All adult players as well as staff members must be vaccinated.
  • Adult spectators should be encouraged to get vaccinated before attending the matches.

  • People with high risk of experiencing severe forms of the disease should be vaccinated or encouraged to avoid going to the stadium.

COVID-19 testing
COVID-19 test results
  1. Test performed by laboratories which are selected by the country’s health authorities.

  2. The test kits should be among the WHO-approved list for COVID-19 test.

  •  A negative PCR test result (collected in not more than 48 hours) should be presented by the athletes before each match.

  •  Non-vaccinated staff should present a negative test result before each match as well.

A negative COVID-19 rapid test or PCR test result (collected in not more than 72 hours) should be presented by non-vaccinated spectators before each match.