These guidelines are intended to help our club tournament hosts safely operate their tournaments during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our return to play and our re-opening of club tournaments should in no way be construed as a signal that life on the soccer fields has returned to normal. Quite to the contrary, the spikes in statewide transmissions this summer were directly attributable to letting our guard down in social settings like youth sporting events. Below are some guidelines that may help us all reduce the risk of transmission while still operating club tournaments.
Again, before any event, each Club must confirm with their local authorities whether any local restrictions will be enforced. For instance, the Governor placed a 25% capacity restriction on outdoor sports events. Whether this restriction will be enforced at soccer tournaments (or games) at the local level is unclear. Tournament Directors should have a very clear idea of how local health officials or fire marshals will apply the Governor’s ruling.
General Mitigation Measures
All of the mitigation measures contained in the Governor's Proclamations and in the CDC Guideline must be observed while attending or participating in a Club Tournament. Social distancing must be maintained at all times. Whether pop-up tents are allowed, whether sidelines are marked to encourage social distancing, signage and all other measures are all left to the discretion of the Club Tournament host. As a reminder, the mask mandate remains in effect across Louisiana. We are all responsible for maintaining and observing these mitigation measures.
Team and Club Obligations and Responsibilities
Clubs and Coaches are the gatekeepers for mitigation protocols. Theare expected to take measures to educate their players and families about the risks of transmission at soccer events and to encourage or require that they observe CDC and State mitigation guidelines. For example, if players on a team bench are neither wearing masks nor observing social distancing, it is the Coach who needs to address it. The Coach is also expected to lead by example. If he or she does not observe reasonable protocols, the players and their parents have no incentive to do so as well.
Clubs should attempt to accomplish team check-in on-line. Because accomplishing this will not always be possible, in-person team check-in should be the night before the tournament in an open air setting if possible and social distancing and mask protocols should be observed.
Club Tournament Hosts are encouraged to use a COVID-19 Waiver form. Thiis form, like the Medical Release form. will be signed by the parents of each player and submitted as part of the tournament registration paperwork. Waivers are being required by many state associations and tournament hosts across the country.
Club tournament hosts are also encouraged to use a COVID-19 Questionnaire in some form. Some may distribute these to participants as they enter the complex and some may require each participant to answer the questionnaire each day before participating.
Masks. The mask mandate is still in effect across Louisiana. That fact must be communicated to and observed by everyone who enters the club tournament venue. The mandate must also be observed by coaches and by players on the bench. We must all be diligent in complying with the State mandate. State and local authorities have the power to shut down an event if they determine the mandate is not being observed.
Fields. The fields shall be arranged in a manner that keeps teams and their
supporters separated from the opposing team and their supporters. Team benches shall be placed on opposite sides of the field to the right of midfield. There shall be a buffer zone 10 yards on either side of midfield. The team bench shall be to the right of the buffer zone and the supporters shall be on the left side of the buffer zone. No supporters shall be permitted to the right of the team bench. Both of the bench areas and the team supporters sections shall be a minimum of 5 yards from the touchline. Tournament Directors should communicate these measures to all participants. LSA would suggest that home and away sides are assigned for each field and perhaps that assignment could be helped with some basic signage.
Concessions. It is strongly suggested that all concessions be limited to pre-packaged food and beverages. All workers at a concessionaire must be wearing a mask and gloves and wash their hands frequently. Should concessions be run by an outside entity (e.g. Parks & Rec. Dept.) the Club should ensure that all CDC and State Guidelines are observed at all times.
Traffic Flow/Timing of Game Slots. Fields in use, timing of game times and traffic flow plans ought to be implemented so as to avoid instances in which there is any high concentration of people. Fields and parking lots ought to be allowed to empty before the next round of games comes in. Tournament hosts should require teams and their supporters to leave their field immediately following their game. They should also discourage teams waiting to play in the next time slot to avoid crowding near their field before their game slot begins.
Award Ceremonies. Club Tournaments should not conduct awards ceremonies of any kind. Medals and trophies should be distributed to the respective team or coach and any presentation should be done by team away from the fields and while observing all mitigation measures such as masking and social distancing.
The health of our players and their families are paramount. The mitigation of transmission in a broader sense is equally as critical. The Governor has proved his willingness to take steps backwards in his phasing and if it is clear that our return to play contributes to a new spike in cases, he will not hesitate to ratchet back on contact sports. We must all be cognizant of this possibility and work together to make certain our return to play is done as safely as possible. Finally, this issue of liability lands squarely in our laps. If we as a state association or you as a club do not do everything reasonably possible to avoid creating an environment in which transmission is likely, liability may attach. For all of these reasons, we must work together, create expectations in all of our tournaments and be consistent in our messaging.