BY Kevin Mapasure
Premier Soccer League (PSL) players face yet more misery on the sidelines following the pronouncement of the month-long lockdown to stem the surge in infections of COVID-19.
Clubs were set to resume training this week in preparation of the league commencing during the first week of March.
But after the government of Zimbabwe imposed a 30-day lockdown where sporting activities and gatherings have been banned, the league would feasibly resume in April if there is no extension of the restrictive measures.
Sports minister Kirsty Coventry opened a small window of hoping where clubs can apply for a special dispensation, but it is unlikely that it would be anything football can afford.
Government last year made a proposal for football to resume in a phased manner in a controlled environment, but the idea was trashed by Zifa, who said it was elitist and expensive, yet it could be the only route available to them at the moment.
Government has insisted that in this environment, football can only return in a controlled environment, which would see players going into bio-bubble.
Football, however, cannot afford the exercise with clubs struggling to pay players during the time they are inactive.
Even though Zifa had given the greenlight for leagues to resume, it seems they may not be able to start playing even after the lockdown.
Last month, Zifa indicated that all leagues would resume in March.
The local football mother body wrote to its affiliates informing them that they could resume training in the first week of March.
Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela, in his correspondence to affiliates, warned that teams should be prepared to play in empty stadiums.
“Following the government’s approval for football to return after the COVID-19 break, the executive committee would like to know if you are prepared to start training on January 4 2021. The proposed date for commencement of the league programmes is first week of March 2021,” Gwesela’s letter read.
“Please bear in mind that the resumption of football activities is preceded by mandatory COVID-19 testing of all stakeholders, with only COVID-19-free individuals being allowed to participate while those found positive should self-isolate,” he said.
Zifa warned clubs that they would need to brace up for the unexpected.
“Football post-COVID-19 brings about new realities for institutions which you should brace up for. The likelihood of playing in empty stadiums is very high considering that large gatherings are prohibited. Zifa will honour its promise to pay for initial tests for all players as well as paying referees’ fees for the forthcoming season,” he added.
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