The Eswatini Football Association (EFA) intend to complete the current 2019/20 domestic season when it is safe to return to play.
Countries such as Belgium and Netherlands have voided their campaigns due to the coronavirus pandemic, and will start afresh in the 2020/21 season later in the year.
But EFA General Secretary Mr. Frederick Mngomezulu has made it clear that the country wants to ensure they complete their season so that champions are crowned and that other matters to do with league placings are completed. This will also include domestic knockout competitions.
“All football competitions countrywide, will resume from the point where they were suspended and be implemented until their conclusion, with the current football season extended accordingly,” Mngomezulu said.
“Depending on the time taken to resolve the COVID-19 pandemic, the subsequent football season(s) in collaboration and/or direction of the international football governing bodies, will be adjusted accordingly.”
Young Buffaloes currently hold an eight-point lead at the top of the league table with 18 rounds of matches played. Mhlume Peacemakers and Black Swallows sit in the relegation places.
Mngomezulu revealed that the decision to complete the season was taken by the Executive Committee, with the EFA further noting that the loss of match-day revenue for teams and other stakeholders was devastating.
“Each and every match-day has some financial gains for the football teams, EFA affiliates and stadium owners just to mention but a few,” the EFA said in their newsletter. “Most of the football teams in the country depend on ticketing for their survival. If the football teams are not generating any incomes, then the players and officials’ salaries are being compromised.
“Fans are the customers of football as they are the consumers of the product. Their presence in the football matches presents some business opportunities not only to the football, but to other stakeholders.
“Sponsors get the opportunity to implement fan engagement initiatives, the transport industry also benefits as they transport football fans to and from the stadiums. People who sell food and beverages are other stakeholders who benefit by doing business during football matches of which a number of families benefit.
“With no action, there is no or minimum business opportunities for them which have an adverse effect in the socio-economic conditions in the country.”
Meanwhile, EFA President, Mr. Adam Mthethwa, has urged the Eswatini public to implement the health precautions as per the government and the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) directives.
“Let us implement the health precautions as per government and WHO’s directives as we fight against the coronavirus,” Mthethwa said.
“Wash your hands frequently; maintain social distance; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; practice respiratory hygiene and if you have a fever, cough and difficulty when breathing, seek medical care early.”