Zimbabwe: Tightened Lockdown Threatens PSL Start

THE spike in Covid-19 infections, and the tightening of the measures to contain the spread of the virus by the Government, could halt the proposed start of the 2020 Castle Lager Premiership season.

The league, which has been in limbo for four months, has been provisionally set to get underway in September, subject to clearance from the Government and health authorities.

But, with the recent spike in the Covid-19 cases in the country, especially the upsurge of the local transmission cases, there is need for the football leadership to do a thorough homework.

The Government this week announced it would be tightening the lockdown restrictions in response to the “worrying” statistics which are now beyond the 1000 mark.”

The reopening of schools for examination classes scheduled for July 28 has been deferred in light of the rising number of confirmed Covid-19 infections.

A local health expert yesterday said the risk of football spreading Covid-19 was real and urged the authorities to respect the health guidelines.

“Firstly, we have to ask what is the objective of wanting to play football under such circumstances?

“Football has resumed in some parts of the world because they want to mitigate the impact of financial losses caused by the suspension of the game. Is it the same with us here?

“Here, we are talking of national teams, clubs, professional athletes and their dependants who rely on the game for their livelihoods.

“Clubs have been struggling with salary bills and other operational costs.

“As for the players, most of these guys are on performance-based contracts. With no games, it means their income is affected.

“But, then, the narrative changes once we talk of moving towards having a balance between mitigating the financial losses and preventing the further spread of Covid-19,” said the expert.

As it stands, chances are now high matches in the top-flight league will not be played at all this season.

PSL chairman Farai Jere however, is still confident ways would be found to make the 2020 kick-off possible.

ZIFA have set up a medical committee that has been tasked with working out the best way towards a safe return to football.

“Covid-19 is going to be with us, just like any other virus, so we should also be prepared to move on,” said Jere.

“Obviously, everything rests with the recommendations by the medical committee. There are a lot of things which we are looking at before the season can start.

“We will follow the guidelines that ensure everyone will be safe.

“We will submit our recommendations to the Sports and Recreation Commission for approval but, if the Government says it’s going to be a lot of risk, then we cannot start.

“The thing is it’s not an entirely ZIFA decision but an all-stakeholders issue which involves the medical committee, clubs, Government.” ZIFA president, Felton Kamambo, said the PSL Medical Committee need to ensure they have completed their guidelines by early next month if the September restart is to be met.

“Whatever plan they (PSL) have, they are supposed to have completed it by August 8 so that they will give us recommendations on the resumption of our leagues,” he said.

“We are still hopeful that provisionally we will be able to start in September subject to the recommendation of our competitions team and approval by the Government of Zimbabwe.”

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