THE Premier Soccer League (PSL) management is clinging on to faint hopes of the resumption of domestic football action this year despite the continued threat of the COVID-19 as well as the government’s reluctance to allow mass gatherings.
BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
This week, the government sanctioned the resumption of low-risk sport codes under strict conditions offering little to no hope of football being allowed return any time soon.
With each government pronouncement on sport, football hopes for this year have been diminishing. Football and rugby are some of the disciplines that have been deemed high risk.
Due to clubs’ over-reliance on gate receipts, the topflight can only return when mass gatherings are allowed and it’s unlikely that it can happen within the next few months.
But despite the nagging doubts, PSL chairperson Farai Jere believes the phased approach by the government in its effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus would eventually see football bouncing back this year.
The PSL boss, also a Zifa board member, has faith and confidence in the government’s phased approach and appreciated their efforts in combating the pandemic.
He said it would be premature for the management to conclude there won’t be any football this year.
The Zifa executive committee resolved at its last meeting that the 2020-2021 football season — which had been scheduled to kick off in March/April before a lockdown was imposed at the end of March — would restart in August/September.
Jere, however, believes the topflight league might still see some action this year.
“Look, the pandemic (COVID 19) has affected the entire sporting industry across the globe,” Jere said. “It’s a disaster that has hit the entire world and as each country battles to curb the spread of the disease, the approach may differ from country to country and this is why some leagues have restarted while others haven’t. The approach is being done in phases and this is why our government has allowed some sport codes to resume. When the conditions are right for football to restart, the government will advise us accordingly. Football is a mass sport, so the government also wants football to bounce back.”
The Harare businessman, who also Caps United director, acknowledged the supporters’ impatience, but maintained that such delays were for the good of the game.
“People have been used to a culture of watching football week in week out, so they really miss the games. But in as much as we all want football to resume, we can’t rush things, we will remain guided by the government. Despite the continued threat of the COVID-19, we can’t quickly conclude that football will no longer be played this year. It will be premature for us to say that. We still hope that football will resume this year in keeping with the resolution of our last Zifa meeting. Nevertheless, it will be determined by the progress the country has made in controlling the spread of the coronavirus,” he said.
Some of the associations given the greenlight to resume activity, provided they satisfy conditions laid out by the establishment are — the Zimbabwe Golf Association, Zimbabwe Aquatic, Zimbabwe Cricket, Cycling Zimbabwe, Triathlon Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe National Bass Federation and the National Anglers Union of Zimbabwe and the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe among others.
In the case of cricket, matches will not be permitted while field events in athletics are also prohibited.