Premier Soccer League chief executive Kenny Ndebele has warned of a grim prospect of having no league running this year because of the coronavirus pandemic that has gripped the world.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
Zimbabwe began a 21-day national lockdown yesterday which authorities hope will reduce the spread of the disease that has since claimed one life in Zimbabwe and tens of thousands globally.
As football fans wait and wonder about what could happen in the local football scene this year, Ndebele said fans should brace for the worst.
He said with the way things have gone so far, it’s possible that there might not be any football activity this year and all focus should be put on fighting the disease.
The league will be guided by the authorities, including the government, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Fifa on the way forward.
“From the way things are happening now, football organisations and any other international organisations have no say in what is going to happen. All directives are coming from government and with the way things are turning out so far, we might not have football this year. For now, the situation is bleak. Until solutions are found, we may not play football this year,” he said.
Ndebele said the administration had not considered other options on how they could run the league this year with the priority being the fight against the spread of the disease.
“This thing (COVID-19) is serious and I don’t think sport will be a priority. We are depending on guidelines and directives from WHO and the government. Even Fifa has not said anything. Everyone around should just follow guidelines. It might be a year of lockdown. On the football side, we will stand guided by Fifa on transfers, salary cuts (if there are any) and contracts,” Ndebele said.
Some big European clubs like Juventus, Barcelona, Athletico Madrid, Borrusia Dortmund and Borussia Moenchengladbach will initiate pay-cuts for players and officials as a survival strategy as the pandemic has hit the economic side of the game.
The start of the local league was indefinitely postponed a few weeks ago following the government’s declaration of the pandemic a national disaster, consequently banning large gatherings.
Clubs suspended their training activities with coaches giving players individual training schedules to be followed at home.
But coaches raised concern about players being able to follow the set out programmes with some suggesting that they will have to start afresh when the pandemic has been contained.
With the lockdown, many players might not be able to do any fitness training during the ban.