The World Health Organisation has declared the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as a global pandemic. As such, the PFA has prepared the following information to provide members with the following information to allow them to take additional steps to safeguard their health and inform them of their rights. The situation is rapidly evolving and the PFA will continue to provide information as it comes to hand; however, please do not hesitate to contact us if you require any additional information or support.  

Beau Busch | PFA Head of Player Relations  

Kate Gill | PFA Deputy Chief Executive  

What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)? 

  • Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can make humans and animals sick. They cause illnesses that can range from the common cold to more severe diseases. Coronavirus (COVID-19) was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan City, China. 

What are the symptoms of Coronavirus? 

  • The most common symptoms are fever, tiredness and dry cough
  • Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, a runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea.  
  • These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell.  
  • Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who get COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develop difficulty breathing.  
  • Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.  
  • About 3% of people with the disease have died globally
  • Players with a fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention. 

Basic preventative measures you can take: 

General measures  

  • Wash your hands thoroughly as often as possible: hand washing and disinfection are essential to prevent infections. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and then dry them with a disposable towel after rinsing them thoroughly. If soap and water are not available, you can also use a hand disinfectant based on 60% alcohol. 
  • Maintain social distancing – maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. 
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. 
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief – preferably a disposable handkerchief – or with your arm, but not with your hand, if you have to cough or sneeze. 
  • Practice respiratory hygiene – make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately. 

During training and matches 

  • Do not drink from the same water bottle during a game or training. Always use a personalised water bottle and do not exchange other items (towels, bathrobes, etc.) with other players. 
  • Avoid eating food in the changing room. 
  • Throw paper handkerchiefs or other used materials like plasters, bandages etc. immediately into the appropriate lockable containers. 

What actions should I take if I experience any of the symptoms listed above?  

  • Players who show obvious symptoms of respiratory infection and/or fever before, during or after training must immediately leave the rest of the team and isolate themselves, if possible, and inform the Club Doctor, who will then – if there is any indication – take further steps. 
  • If the symptoms appear outside a training session, the player should avoid all contact and meetings with other team players and, if possible, isolate themselves. Players should contact their Club Doctor by telephone, and can also call the Australian Government’s Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. To protect yourself and others, do not go to a GP, pharmacy or hospital. 

What actions should I take if I have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with coronavirus or is suspected to be suffering from it?  

  • Inform the Club Doctor immediately if there has been any contact (either personally or within the family) with persons who have returned from risk areas or quarantine, have been quarantined or have tested positive – or if you have been in a risk area yourself. 

What action should you take if you or a family member is planning to travel overseas?  

  • Talk to your doctor before travelling with young children, babies or an elderly person, if you’re pregnant, if you have a weak immune system, or if you have a chronic medical condition. 
  • Read the travel advice for your destination and for the countries you need to transit through to get there and get home. Read our advice about infectious diseases and medical assistance overseas before you go. 
  • Check with your travel agent, airline, cruise operator, accommodation provider and travel insurance provider to consider your options regarding any potential changes in services. 
  • Subscribe to Smartraveller for the latest updates (Click Here  to subscribe) 
  • Familiarise yourself with Australian Embassy contacts in the country in which are planning to travel to. Click Here to view them 

What are the current travel restrictions in place? 

  • The Federal Government are closely monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and its implications for overseas travel. Many countries are now reporting cases. Many are introducing new entry restrictions. These are changing often and quickly.  
  • The Federal Government has expanded its Coronavirus travel ban to include Italy. Bans were already in place for travellers from ChinaIran and South Korea.
  • Foreign nationals who have been in Italy, mainland China, Iran and South Korea will not be allowed into Australia for 14 days from the time they left those countries. 
  • Australian citizens and permanent residents travelling from those countries will be able to enter Australia, but will need to isolate themselves for a fortnight. 

Can you be forced to travel overseas to play for your club or country? 

  • Any directive from your club or national team to travel internationally does not constitute a lawful and reasonable directive for you to be forced to travel with your team. 

What has the PFA done so far? 

  • Worked with Football Federation Australia (FFA) to ensure that international tournaments for our national teams have not proceeded in high-risk or affected areas (e.g. the Matildas’ 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games Qualifiers originally scheduled to be played in Wuhan, China). 
  • Worked with clubs and FFA to ensure no travel for club competitions to high-risk or affected areas (e.g. rescheduling or postponing AFC Asian Champions League matches for Australian clubs involved in matches against teams from countries from affected or high-risk areas). 
  • Contacted or initiated direct communication with players in high-risk or affected areas.  
  • Written to FFA to request the establishment of a Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Committee to deal with Coronavirus, with medical, legal and operational experts to guide and inform future decision-making on strategic and operational matters.  

Your Contractual rights 

  • The PFA has been working with its global affiliate, FIFPRO, to determine the legal rights of a player where their league or club has been impacted by the Coronavirus. 
  • As you can appreciate, the legal rights of players will be determined by individual circumstances (for example, what country players are playing are in, specific clauses in their contracts, how long a league might be suspended etc). 
  • In general, it is our advice that the presence of Coronavirus in a country and the current suspension of football will not allow a player to terminate his or her contract (or a club to do the same). Further, it does not entitle the player to make their own decision to leave their place of employment to return home. 
  • For example, FIFA has determined, in the past, that Ebola breakouts in Africa have not constituted grounds for players to terminate a contact. There are, however, some examples of extreme circumstances of allowing players to terminate their contract – such as the duration of a long-term civil war that brought the league to an end. 
  • This high bar works both ways for players. Whilst it limits the steps a player can take, it also protects players from clubs who might want to cease paying players their contractual entitlements. 
  • If players wish to explore rights of termination, they should either work directly with their clubs or alternatively, provide their contract to the PFA so that we can see if there are any provisions within the contract that prevent or support such a right. 

For more resources and information on coronavirus: