Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Testing players: Zifa to engage Govt

By Tadious Manyepo

ZIFA says testing of players for the coronavirus will only be done upon extensive consultations with key stakeholders including the Government and FIFA.

ZIFA Communications Manager Xolisani Gwesela
ZIFA Communications Manager Xolisani Gwesela

The national association’s Emergency Committee met last week and set August/September as the provisional period in which football activities including the 2020 Premiership season would commence.

The top-flight term as well as the lower tier leagues are currently on hold due to the novel coronavirus epidemic currently ravaging the world.

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But, football could return, depending on the situation, five months after the season had initially been scheduled.

And ZIFA are currently working on the modalities, in consultation with the Government, FIFA and CAF to ensure a smooth return of the game.

ZIFA spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela, yesterday said whether players and officials will get tested at training sessions and before matches will depend on the advice from relevant authorities.

“The August/September proposal remains provisional but everything depends upon expert direction from stakeholders including the Government, FIFA and CAF,” Gwesela said.

“In as much as we would like to see football make a quick return, our utmost wish is to have a health community around and fit footballers and stakeholders.

“At the moment, our passionate call is clear. Adhere to the regulations put in place by the authorities. We cannot afford to flout those measures for they are for our own good.

“Meanwhile, we are having all the necessary considerations, pf course in consultation with the relevant authorities.

“If football is to be played, the environment should be safe for the players, officials, fans and everyone else.

“In as much as we can handle things, we know this pandemic is beyond us. There are experts in the field including the Government, FIFA and CAF who we are consulting. August/September could be feasible and testing of the players could be good but as I have said, all that depends on the key stakeholders which I have already mentioned in their order.”

The start of the Premiership season had to be postponed, two weeks before its initial kick-off date back in March as the pandemic spread rapidly across the world.

Zimbabwe is currently under extended lockdown after seeing off the initial three weeks in March which was also stretched by a further two weeks.

Gwesela said, if given the greenlight to commence football activities in August/September, all leagues, including the lower tier, will start almost simultaneously.

He did not rule out games being played behind closed doors.

“Whether the games will be played without fans depends on what the Government, FIFA and CAF would have said about that.

“These are desperate times and we ought to be careful so we will always consult with the experts to guide us along.” The Chronicle