Time for LeFA to step up

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Moorosi Tsiane

THE Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) last week announced that it would hand a US$67 500 (about M1.3 million) boost to its premier, first division and second division leagues in the wake of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

About M793 000 will go to the premier league teams while the remaining M482 000 will be shared among the lower tie clubs.

This is an interesting move and I wish our own Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) could emulate and implement the same.

It is a given that teams are losing a lot during this Coronavirus induced break which will continue for most of this month; if not beyond. That however, does not mean the teams can temporarily suspend their contracts with their players.

The Econet Premier League, the PostBank league and other lower divisions have been put on hold by LeFA from 16 March to curb the spread of the Coronavirus which has killed 11 people in neighbouring South Africa and infected over 1 600 others. Globally, the epidemic has claimed over 70 000 people while infections have surpassed 1.3 million.

Soccer leagues and other sporting activities have either been cancelled or postponed across the world. For soccer, the lockdowns mean huge financial challenges for clubs that rely on gate takings and sponsors for revenue. While a few clubs that are fortunate will have their sponsors continuing to release the funds that they have committed to, the bulk of the teams are in dire straits.

This follows for several local teams as their sponsors are also struggling amid the coronavirus scourge.

An intervention from LeFA in this time would be timely.

The global footballing mother body, FIFA, recently proposed to release US$2.7 billion that is meant to assist the footballing community.

“FIFA is in a strong financial situation and it’s our duty to do the utmost to help them (teams) in their hour of need,” FIFA said in an interview with the New York Times last week.

“Therefore, we confirm (that) FIFA is working on possibilities to provide assistance to the football community around the world after making a comprehensive assessment of the financial impact this pandemic will have on football.”

If LeFA doesn’t have funds to spare on their subvention, I believe they can still apply to FIFA for assistance.

If teams like Spain’s Barcelona and Juventus (Italy) have already announced pay reductions for their players, one can only imagine how other smaller teams like our own Linare or Qoaling Highlanders will fare.

The players and staff may indeed understand that there is no revenue but their financial obligations remain.

In the past five years, local teams have started paying their players monthly allowances but given that they are bleeding from the break, it only makes sense that LeFA steps up.

The future of the bulk of the clubs depends solely on the benevolence of LeFA. The association must ensure the standard achieved in the last four years does not fall given it has taken close to two decades to achieve.

 

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