Cape Town Eswatini has announced a gradual reopening of organised, top level football activities in order for the country to meet its obligations posed by international participation of games such as AFCON and COSAFA Cup.
Speaking at the Editors Forum breakfast meeting last week, the country’s Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini said the government has also agreed to allow the top two levels of local football , that is the Premier League and National First Division, to resume operations under strict health protocols.
Football games and other sports in Eswatini had been frozen for at least seven months now due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are pleased to announce a gradual reopening of organised, top level football activities in the country with immediate effect. This decision has been made with full consideration of the unique obligations posed by international participation requirements. With AFCON Qualifiers set to resume in November, as well as COSAFA Cup and CAF inter-clubs commitments, the country is obligated to honour these games. Failure to do so would result in heavy fines as well as the subsequent suspension of various funding from both FIFA and CAF that drives much of the football development we see in the country,” he said.
“Government has carefully considered all these factors as well as the nature of COVID-19 in the country and has found it fit to allow the Eswatini Football Association (EFA) to immediately but carefully proceed with preparations for upcoming international games. This will see national teams go to camp immediately under strict health protocols.”
Among the strict health protocols are: no spectators at any football match and training venues, EFA to ensure that regular screening is conducted on all participants throughout the resumption period and only four match venues will be used to limit the movement of teams among others.
He said the government wishes to emphasize that all other levels of football including informal football, remain banned.
He also highlighted that sporting codes that are categorised as middle risk to the pandemic such as: chess, gymnastics and swimming will also be allowed to resume this week under strict covid-19 restrictions too.