BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA

ZIFA on Saturday embraced the National Basketball Association (NBA) “Bio Bubble Concept” proposed by the Sports ministry to ensure a safe resumption of football, but Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs have appealed for funding from the government as most cannot afford the huge costs involved.

Last week, the government, through the Sports ministry, presented a raft of proposals for interrogation by Zifa — the custodians of local football — which could see the resumption of the game in mini-league format with four venues having been proposed for the 18 PSL sides.

The bill to stage top-flight football though could be out of reach for most clubs, where each team has to get its players and staff tested for COVID-19 before they get into the bio bubble.

COVID-19 testing costs about US$65 for an individual for the reliable polymerase chain reaction test.

Each club would need to get at least 30 players and officials tested.

Teams will also need to pay for accommodation as they will be required to play 10 matches each for those that will be based in Harare and Bulawayo in the first phase of the competition.

Other centres, namely Mutare and Zvishavane, will have four teams each that will play eight matches before advancing to the knockout stages, where they clash with teams from other centres.

Throughout the duration, clubs have to take care of players’ welfare, including meals.

Yesterday, a source said Zifa resolved at its meeting on Saturday to go ahead with the concept proposed by the Sports ministry and clubs had already started working on budgets to be submitted to the government for financial support.

“Zifa resolved at its meeting on Saturday after interrogating the proposal of the ‘Bubble’ concept by the Sports ministry to go ahead with it. But they are all agreed that there is need for funding as clubs cannot afford on their own. It requires a substantial amount if this concept is adopted,” the source said.

Dynamos chairperson Isaiah Mupfurutsa said the concept was a good initiative, but insisted clubs needed support as they could not afford to go it alone.

“This is a good initiative by the government through the Sports ministry, but it’s a costly exercise that requires support and I am sure the government will help in this regard. Sport is an industry that employs a lot of people and is good for leisure and with some sponsors reluctant to partner football without getting enough mileage from it in this era of COVID-19, it is our hope that the government will chip in,” he said.

“By not allowing football, it does not mean the government does not value football. It is about ensuring the health and safety of people. Now that they are relaxing lockdown regulations, they know football needs financial support during this period, so clubs will be hoping for support.”

According to the recommendations the Sports ministry proposed, the National Sports Stadium in Harare, Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo, Sakubva Stadium in Mutare and Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane will be the host venues.

Zimbabwean football has been in limbo since March when government imposed a lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.

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