|THE Football Association of Ireland is ready for a further return to action this weekend when another 68 Leagues will welcome their teams back on the field with the commencement of their new seasons under the FAI’s Safer Return to Play Protocol, issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 68 adult and underage Leagues returning across the country will now join the 48 Leagues already back playing football in a safe environment since the Government allowed for a return to competitive play on 18 July.
By the final whistle this weekend, the return of competitive football under the FAI’s Safer Return to Play Protocol will have featured:
- Close to 200,000 players involved at all levels and all ages
- Support from coaches, match officials, club officials, volunteers, parents and guardians across all teams
- Over 12,000 fixtures played across 116 Leagues
Welcoming the return of so many Leagues this weekend, FAI President Gerry McAnaney said: “It has been a pleasure to see football back on our playing fields all over Ireland since the middle of July so the return of these Leagues this weekend, in particularly so many underage Leagues, is a welcome boost for our game.
FAI President Gerry McAnaney
Photo: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne
“I have been astounded by the amount of work that has been put in by so many volunteers, League officials and club officials as well as all the coaches, players and match officials to get our games up and running again and I commend them all. I also want to thank our own FAI staff who have worked so hard to ensure a safe environment for our players to return to training and playing since July.
“Football is once again at the heart of every community in Ireland. Our senior Men’s international team have returned to action under Stephen Kenny and Vera Pauw is about to lead our women’s team into their big European Championship fixture in Germany. The SSE Airtricity League and the Women’s National League are also back and all our adult amateur and underage Leagues, including the National Leagues, will return to the field within the coming days.
“It is a testament to all involved that we are playing football again and I wish them all well. Of course, we remind all our constituents to respect the advice from the government agencies regarding COVID-19 and we again thank all our frontline workers for their tremendous and selfless efforts in this pandemic.”