The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) has continued updating key stakeholders on the possible options on the conclusion to the 2019/2020 season with Super League sponsor MTN being the latest.
FAZ president Andrew Kamanga led a team from Football House to brief MTN through Chief Executive Officer Bart Hofker on the status of the league and the possible options amidst the covid-19 crisis.
MTN are top of the pile in the sponsorship of the Super League and national team.
FAZ charted the way forward that includes the possibility of winding down the league through playing matches behind closed doors or alternatively allowing teams to play an equal number of games.
In extreme circumstances teams will play the remainder of the season in the
second half of the year thus pushing the 2020/2021 season to March next year.
The Super League was suspended with matches at Week 25, leaving nine un-played fixtures that FAZ plans to see out once the covid-19 threat subsides.
FAZ suspended all league matches on March 19, 2020 indefinitely arising from
the covid-19 crisis.
On Friday President Edgar Lungu announced loosened restrictions in some sectors of economy in what is dubbed the ‘New Normal’ with restaurants, gymnasiums and casinos allowed to operate.
Meanwhile, FAZ General Secretary Adrian Kashala says he is hopeful that the
next Presidential pronouncement on lifting restrictions on the covid-19 crisis
will cover football.
Featuring on the Eden University Sports Show on Joy FM, Kashala said FAZ would not just copy and paste solutions from other countries in reaching a decision on the resumption or cancellation of the league.
Kashala said FAZ was banking on deciding the 2019/2020 season on the pitch.
“We are happy that President Edgar Chagwa Lungu relaxed certain rules and now the next thing we are praying for is that we do not have an increased number of cases so that probably next week we have other rules relaxed so that at some point we have our sporting activities back,” he said.
Kashala said that cancelling the league could not be done unilaterally as
various stakeholders needed to be factored in.
“We want to have the league decided on the pitch. It is an investment for the clubs and stakeholders so you can’t just say we have cancelled the league,” he said.
“People put in money and it is something which may not go down well with the sponsors, they are looking at the prestige and others (clubs) would win something at the end of the day. It is not something that we can just say cancel the league today and start a new league.”
Kashala added: “This is a worldwide problem. We are about two months into
the whole situation. I think we can wait a little bit longer. We are all
affected, so have to take a bit of time before we make certain decisions. CAF
and FIFA know the situation which we are in. the situation requires us to take
a bit of time in as far as decisions are concerned.”
He said cancelling the current league did not guarantee that the next season would kick-off immediately.
“How are we going to start a new league (2021 season) when the situation
would not have improved at the time? It is just important that we remain
patient and look at how the situation will improve so that at the time we will
have the situation controlled then we can make a decision,” he said.
“Until now we have not written to the authorities because we are still monitoring the situation and look at the best option.”
Kashala laid out the three options tabled by FAZ, “One of the options is to play the games behind closed doors, secondly is to allow the clubs that have games in hand to play those games and equal to all teams. Thirdly we are looking at delaying the start of the next season so that we complete the current season.”
The FAZ chief executive officer said that while declaring the league nullified
may seem fashionable there were other options that Zambia was laying on the
table before invoking that extreme measure.
Kashala said Zambia would not take a populist decision but methodically assess the situations that favoured fair play.
“From my understanding there is no single solution for various problems, we are in a different situation. For us we will remain here as Zambians and will apply a situation in a Zambian way. Yes we here other countries have suspended or cancelled their leagues,” he said.
“For us it is not who has made what decision but what is prevailing here in our country. We will not bank on what other countries have done.”
He also reiterated that no life was worth losing over football.
“There is no life worth losing just for the sake of having football played. We are also very cautious and we appreciate the measures which have been put in to protect our lives from this pandemic which has affected the whole world,” he said.