Zim League in doubt this year

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Zimbabwe’s top football league is mulling on a tournament under a bio-bubble this year as the country seeks to steer clear of a rise in Covid-19 infections.

Although infections have been relatively low, the Government has put football in the high-risk category due to its contact nature and would be setting stringent guidelines for the resumption of the game.

A bio-bubble is a safe and secure environment isolated from the outside world to minimise the risk of COVID-19 infection. It permits only authorised sports persons, support staff and match officials to enter the protected area after testing negative for COVID-19.

Government is wary of resuming the league following an exponential increase among football players following the resumption of the game in that country in late July.

Football remains banned in the country despite the fact the nation has to fulfil the 2021 AFCON qualifiers fixtures that resume next month while the women’s football team is scheduled to take part in the regional Cosafa Women’s Championships also taking place next month in South Africa.

The Zimbabwe Football Association presented a US$1.1 million budget to Government officials during a meeting held on Friday.

A ministry official who attended the meeting but is not allowed to officially speak on behalf of the department, said that a tournament was in the offing for PSL teams so as to ensure the country has active players that can be selected for the African Championships of Nations (CHAN) that is scheduled for Cameroon between 16 January and 7 February, 2021.

“The Government is wary of resuming the sport after looking at the experiences of other countries that have started the game.

“Remember Zambian football was plagued by increased Covid-19 cases when the sport resumed in July so the ministry does not want to see a similar situation happening. There is careful deliberation on what measures need to be taken for the game to come back in the country and testing of players is upmost on their minds but the question is on who will pay for the testing fees.

“South Africa obviously has the resources to test after each game but we do not so we have to come up with our own unique Zimbabwean solution to the pandemic if we are to get going otherwise the sport will always be in limbo,” a ministry official said.

The bio-bubble is meant to be a test on how the league will be fully resumed under Covid-19.
“We are likely going to have a tournament for the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League with the league coming back next year. The tournament is meant to be an aid in preparation,” said the official.

“The league has been asked to approach their sponsors, Delta Beverages to fund part of the tourney as no game has been played this year while Zifa has also committed to funding part of the resumed campaign.”

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By FARPost Reporter

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