BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
THE Premier Soccer League (PSL) is hopeful that the government through the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) will allow for the completion of the Chibuku Cup as well as for the local league to resume after.
A ban on all sporting activities was put into effect by the SRC last week following the government’s ban on all gatherings in the wake of a Covid-19 third wave scare.
However, by midweek the SRC had given the green to 24 sport codes classified as low risk to resume activities while football, which has been operating under strict Covid-19 protocol was made to wait.
SRC chairman Gerald Mlotshwa was on record saying that there have been many Covid-19 protocol violations in some sport codes raising speculation that he was making reference to football.
But PSL chief executive Kenny Ndebele expressed optimism that the Chibuku Cup will be allowed to resume while the organisation is ready to comply with stricter protocols.
“Our position is that we stand guided by the government directives and guidelines. However, we are hopeful that we will get clearance to complete the Chibuku Cup and thereafter make an application for the resumption of the league,” Ndebele told Standardsport.
“I think we have done our best to ensure the safety of our players and staff considering that we have been working with about 30 medical doctors, 18 of them from the clubs. We are even prepared to comply with any new regulations that may be required of us.
“We are grateful for the support that we have received from Zifa, the SRC and government during this difficult period,” he said.
The Chibuku Cup sponsored to the tune of US$375 000 by Delta Beverages had reached the halfway stage of the group contests when the ban was announced.
There are fears that the ban on sports may come as a major blow on the investment made by the sponsors as well as the clubs.
One of the officials from local clubs revealed that their club needed as much as US$ 3000 every week to be able to fulfil a Chibuku fixture.
“The ban is a major blow to the clubs, which have invested a lot under the difficult environment. We needed as much as US$3000 per week to be able to play. Remember we had to test players and staff every week. We understand Zifa had said they will cover the costs for testing, but then we had to cover the costs ourselves,” he said.
Teams that had been enjoying a purple patch such as Ngezi Platinum Stars, who are the only club with a 100% record thus far in the competition as well as Dynamos, Highlanders, Chicken Inn and CAPS United will feel aggrieved by the ban.
Football recorded a total of three Covid cases since the Chibuku Cup started. It’s not clear if such statistics will work in favour or against the swift return of football.
“Going forward historical Covid statistics from certain sport codes that have made representations to the SRC will inform the commission on the nature of the proposals that it may consider putting to government at the appropriate time for possible resumption or exemption,” Mlotshwa said early this week.
“We are busy working on this in the background and those sport codes will be informed and kept abreast accordingly,” he said responding to questions from journalists.
The ban on football has also cast doubt over the resumption of the local league which was scheduled to resume in July after an 18-month absence.