Zim soccer season hangs in balance

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Tadious Manyepo

Harare – The Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) is adamant that the 2020-2021 soccer season will start late this year, but other stakeholders have cast a shadow of doubt due to the costs involved.

The season was initially scheduled to kick-off in April but was shelved as a measure to stifle the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zimbabwe has experienced a spike in novel coronavirus cases in recent weeks, and this has further raised the possibility of another postponement of proceedings.

Other leagues in Southern Africa - including Tanzania and Zambia - have resumed with the South African season also scheduled to return in coming weeks.

Zimbabwe's major football stakeholders held an extraordinary meeting last weekend to deliberate on the feasibility of starting the season in September.

A medical team has been tasked to conduct clinical research and the committee will give feedback on their findings on August 8.

ZIFA president Felton Kamambo said there was a possibility that the season would start in September subject to government approval.

Kamambo said, "Our situation is unique. Unlike other leagues in the region, we have not yet started our season. We are not looking at resuming the term like others in the region but we are looking at kicking off the season in September. 

"We have tasked our medical team, led by Dr Edward Chagonda, to conduct a scientific assessment on how best the season can start with the testing of players and officials top of the list. 

"The committee will give a feedback in the next fortnight and that report will guide us on the way forward of course depending on what Government would have said."

Other stakeholders raised the issue of costs, and Premier Soccer League chair Farai Jere said players would likely feel the pinch.

"COVID-19 test kits are beyond the reach of many clubs in both the Premiership and first division. We await the medical report and what the government will have to say about the findings. 

"But, well the costs could be a hindrance. However we hope that other stakeholders will come to the aid of the clubs."

With a sharp spike in coronavirus cases in the country, the football season is increasingly in danger.

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