Lives must come first

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Moorosi Tsiane

THE Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) and the Premier League Management Committee (PLMC) last week said they would soon announce their decision regarding the local soccer leagues.

The footballing community is waiting with bated breath for both bodies to say whether the leagues will be nullified or continue in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.

According to the statement issued by LeFA and PLMC, there are four probable decisions namely:

  • Worst case scenario is to abort the season. This will render all matches played in the leagues void and therefore no team will be considered for neither promotion nor relegation. No champion will be declared.
  • The second option is to extend the season. This means that instead of ending the leagues by 31 May 2020, some games would be played later.
  • The third option is that league matches may be played without spectators at designated stadia only. This would be effected if the government eases restrictions on the lockdowns and downscales the risks. However, only players, club officials, match officials, medical personnel and few media practitioners would attend the matches under extremely stringent measures.
  • The last option is that matches could be played at designated stadia with spectators. This option is highly improbable given that the Coronavirus continues to spread in other countries.

I understand that both the PLMC and LeFA are faced with a tough decision and chances are that any route they take may not be popular with some of the teams.

If the season is aborted and no champion is declared, it would be unpopular with teams that have worked hard for honours. It will also be unpopular with teams that are hoping to be promoted from lower divisions. However, this could be very popular with teams that are facing relegation as they would eventually be saved.

Playing without spectators could be a viable option provided all players are tested or at least screened before they go onto the field. The challenge of course will be the cost of the tests.

Apart from that, teams survive on gate takings and if there are no spectators, that means they have no revenue. There has been talk of financial relief for team but whatever the government or LeFA provide, is unlikely to be adequate.

In the end, it could be safer to wait until the coronavirus is eradicated. However, the question that remains is when will that be? FIFA has said the last day for leagues around the world must be 31 July 2020.

I understand the predicament that both our football bodies are in now and at the end of the day, I think they will have to decide as soon as possible or the delays will come back to haunt them.

When they decide, I hope they value the lives of all the people involved in football more than both the sport itself.

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