Gaborone -The Botswana Football Association (The BFA) this week announced that it has taken a decision to stop with immediate effect handshakes at all football matches until further notice.
The announcement comes amid concerns over the spread of the corona virus across the world.
According to the association, this is an international practice by various federations across the world to minimise risks of infections.
The association said in a statement that it found it fit to take the decision in the promotion of World Health Organisation standards of health prevention.
“The public is also requested and advised to take precautionary measures in fighting the spread of corona virus,” the association said.
A handshake, studies say, transfers twice the amount of bacteria compared to other quicker exchanges.
As part of basic measures against the virus, the WHO has advised the public to “regularly and thoroughly clean” their hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
Meanwhile, the Botswana government has canceled the scheduled Botswana Women U-17 national football team’s trip to Morocco due to corona virus. Botswana was expected to lock horns with Morocco in a second leg encounter for the World Cup qualifiers preliminary round on 14 March.
The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, said the decision to cancel the trip was arrived at due to the outbreak.
“Botswana will not honour the fixture. We have observed that the spread of the virus is now rampant and spreading at an alarming rate, hence the government took a deliberate decision not to send the team to Morocco,” he said.
“We took into account the fact that Egypt has already reported one death due to the virus. While it is the desire for the local team to go and compete, and possibly reverse the 1-0 score margin, such would not materialise as the circumstances are beyond our control,” he said.
He said Botswana was ready to explain the decision to FIFA for not honouring the fixture, adding that they were hoping that FIFA would not slap the country with sanction sfor failing to honour the fixture.
“In fact, we have already requested Botswana Football Association to communicate to FIFA and inform them about government’s position to ban travel amongst the public servants and other stakeholders. The decision does not affect sports only. Even other government officials are not supposed to travel outside the country,” said Rakgare.
He said that the team’s health was a priority, adding that there were other opportunities that would come and it should continue playing football and know that the authorities valued its contribution to the country.