No spectators allowed at soccer games in Manitoba, one parent allowed for mini players: soccer association
WINNIPEG -- While indoor and outdoor soccer games have been given the go-ahead by the Manitoba Soccer Association (MSA), there will be no spectators allowed to cheer on the players.
In a release on Wednesday evening, Héctor Vergara, the executive director of the MSA, announced the new guidelines for outdoor and indoor soccer games under provincial health orders.
MSA said member leagues can start outdoor exhibition games as of April 21, with the outdoor competition season set to begin as early as May 1.
Though the MSA said no spectators will be allowed at any indoor or outdoor youth (U9-U18) or senior (U18+) practices, training sessions, exhibition, or league game for any league division effective immediately.
The MSA said a parent can join mini soccer players (U3-U8) and must participate on the field with the player.
"Referees will be instructed to only start games when there are no spectators in attendance," the release said.
"Coaching staff of both teams will be expected to cooperate with the referee if spectators need to be asked to leave, and it will be the coaches’ responsibility to do so."
While current health orders limit outdoor gatherings to 10 people, a spokesperson for the province told CTV News if someone is engaged in an outdoor game—there can be more than 10 people playing.
"That allows coaches, players and others assisting with the game to be on the sidelines. Parents can come and watch, but public health officials don’t want them gathering in close proximity," the spokesperson said in an email.
"They must not be in a group larger than 10, and should physically distance from others outside their household."
The MSA cautioned members to follow the guidelines set out.
"It is critically important that we all realize that these decisions are meant to allow participants to enjoy the sport and receive the physical and mental health benefits important for the well-being of the community," Vergara said in the release.
Winnipeg City Councillor Shawn Nason said the MSA's decision to ban parents from spectating is concerning and might not be allowed.
"For the most part, they take place on City of Winnipeg property, so I'm a little concerned about an overreach from the perspective of barring people from city-owned property," said Nason. "I understand that they're utilizing the field, but if parents are standing back at a safe (distance) and following provincial guidelines, then there shouldn't be a problem for them to stand in the area."
As a parent with kids in soccer, Nason said he also has questions about safety concerns with not having parents near the field.
"If you're away from the play, you're not seen," he said. "Things can happen on the play, if your child gets injured, there might be a delay noticing it or they might have trouble finding you as a parent."
Nason said he would like to hear why the Manitoba Soccer Association made the rules the way they are.
"I'd just like to have a better understanding of their reasoning to bar parents from being in proximity to observe their child at play. I think it is important that parents do get an opportunity to see their kids play these sports. We've been challenged with COVID-19 and I think getting outdoors is good for everyone's mental health," said Nason.
The MSA declined CTV News's request for comment.