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Feature: Coronavirus, an opportunity for Africa to reboot Football

Feature: Coronavirus, an opportunity for Africa to reboot Football

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has caused chaos across the globe bringing many sporting events to a halt.

In Africa, major competitions such as the Africa Nations Championship (CHAN), The CAF Champions League and the CAF Confederations Cup have been postponed throwing the football community into turmoil.

Equally there is growing unrest as many African football league across the continent have been suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) issued its member associations with a request to state their positions on the future of football in their respective countries.

Some Football Associations have made bold decisions to scrap their leagues entirely opting to start a new season. Some of the countries that have decided to nullify their season include Kenya, Angola, Niger and Liberia.

In Kenya, Gor Mahia were crowned champions, as well as Petro Luanda who were declared winners of the Girabola.

Some of the other major African Leagues are however, crossing their fingers that they can reach some sort of consensus with their respective governments to at least resume football behind closed doors so that champions, relegation and continental spots can be decided.

The Egyptian Premier League officials have decided to suspend its season until the end of May with a view to return when it is safe to do so. Egyptian Sports minister Ashraf Sobhi made it clear that the decision lies entirely with the Egyptian government.

In Ghana the FA has also decided to extend the suspension with a hope to revise until 30 June after a careful assessment and evaluation of the issue.

In South Africa, The PSL have categorically stated that they will not scrap the 2019-20 season while in Tanzania, Football officials are making internal logistics to facilitate the possible resumption of football leagues in the country.

The Football Association of Zambia has also committed to completing the 2019-20 season when it is safe to do so and is it constant talks with the Zambian government.

The Lesotho FA has decided it would be best for them to complete the 2019-20 Lesotho Season.

In Mauritania, the Football Federation have extended the postponement of the national leagues to September 2020. In addition, they have decided to earmark over $3 million to support the football community in the country

Of course too much money is at stake from sponsors and other cooperating partners but putting a human face to the situation would mean demanding that all leagues are scrapped and play resumes when it is safe to do so. The coronavirus has taken a huge toll on the financial revenue for clubs who mostly rely on gate receipts to survive and are at risk of going bust if leagues are not completed.

Regardless of the debate, only one thing is clear. The coronavirus pandemic has given many football associations across the continent the chance to regroup and reorganize their leagues for the better.

The break in the play should be the right time to reflect how to further improve on areas such as infrastructure development, grass root football, capacity building and use of IT technology to further improve communication and interaction with football stakeholders.

Most importantly, Football Associations should also use this period to reorganize their finances and be more accountable and prepare for future catastrophic events that impact negatively on football.

Generally, there is indiscriminate misuse of money meant for football development in Africa. This is an opportunity to clean up and resolve the many internal wrangles in our football.

Power struggle is the order of the day, for Instance in countries like Zambia and Kenya, there continues to be a power struggle for the highest football job in the land.

An opportunity presents itself now for Football bodies in Africa to unite on one front and work together for the better of the game.

In summation, The Covid-19 pandemic has left the footballing community in panic but it gives the opportunity to be more accountable with the financial resources so that Africa has a solid financial standing in the world.

An African football Journalist based in the town of Kabwe, Zambia.

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