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Safety must inform league resumption

THE big debates over the last few weeks have centred around the resumption of football leagues in Europe and other parts of the world.

THE big debates over the last few weeks have centred around the resumption of football leagues in Europe and other parts of the world.

NewsDay Comment

In some of those debates the bone of contention has been whether it’s too risky for football players to resume playing under the dark cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Resumption of any football in Europe is now dependent on the measures that can be put in place to ensure the safety of players.

In South Africa, there has also been talk centred on the resumption of the Absa Premier League behind closed doors.

The testing of players and their safety have been key issues that have informed the debate.

Back home in Zimbabwe, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) has chosen not to entertain any talk about the start of the league programme, preferring to watch and wait as the fight against the disease goes on.

PSL has not considered ways in which football can come back to life after the disease has been contained.

Only recently, Zifa suggested that local leagues could kickstart in August or September when lockdown restrictions are expected to have been eased further or removed.

But Zifa’s pronouncement is not backed by any meaningful plan on how football in the country can finally kickstart under a safe environment.

The main issue in the resumption of football in the country, will be the safety of players, their families as well as fans.

This means that of paramount importance will be the testing of all players before they can start group training and return to competitive action.

One would have expected Zifa and the PSL to have started exploring ways through which they can allow the return of football, while making sure that it is safe to do so.

For Zifa to just come up with dates which are not backed by any safety measures borders on being careless.

PSL cannot just wait and wonder also, it should be proactive and start designing mechanisms for a return to the game.

Football is a source of livelihood for most of the players in the league. Some of them could find themselves out of employment if football is not played in the next few months.

Dynamos have already announced that they may be forced to enforce salary cuts if the topflight league fails to start in the next couple of months. Clubs are not getting any income, they are only pumping out money towards players’ salaries. They cannot go on paying idle players for long.

Caps United are already struggling with the players’ salaries and the situation could deteriorate further. In that regard, we implore the football authorities to take a leaf from Europe and at least engage government to plan on the possible return of football.

Zifa and the PSL have to take a more active role than just come up with dates that are not backed by any mechanisms.

Planning is important, but at the moment no one is planning anything, which is worrisome.

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