Mbabane: As we continue to weather the Covid-19 storm, the pandemic that has killed over 477 000 people across the globe, a lot has been exposed in our football from maladministration in organizations and teams to the sport as a career.
Coronavirus has shown that our football has more holes than Swiss cheese and the recent back and forth of decisions, infightings and power struggle in recent days is prove to that. Eswatini football was brought to a halt in mid-March, hours before crunch Eswatini Bank Cup quarterfinal matches and Eswatini Football Association (EFA) has been working on plans on how the season can be resumed in the safest possible environment, just like it has been the case with other leagues across the world.
The idea, needless to say has been meant with different feelings from club owners, players to fans. The reality is that in the midst of this virus that is threatening human existence, just like the economy being eased, life has to go on even on the sporting front. Fumigating, sanitizing, social distancing and regular testing are just the ‘new normal’ we will have to embrace.
Covid-19, like any tragedies has exposed a few things in our football and we detail each one of those…
- Teams not self-sustained
The sudden financial interest from the PLE Board of Governors (BOGs) sums it up that our football clubs are not self-sustained. The sad reality is that our clubs depend holistically on gate collections. In the world of football, match day tickets accounts for just 20 per cent of revenue with established clubs in premier league level. The rest of the money comes from naming rights, TV endorsements, technical sponsorships and advertising space on replicas. For the future, Eswatini teams will have to explore all these sources of revenue to stay afloat even in difficult times.
- A premier league with no TV rights
We would not be scratching our heads on how football fans can be allowed in stadiums if- and that is if football finally resumes. Failure to secure this big commercial pocket of football by the PLE is a disgrace. It has been previously reported that Eswatini TV charges up to E80 000 to broadcast one football match but a good deal can be struck with the number of MTN League, Ingwenyama Cup, Eswatini Bank Cup and Eswatini Telecom Charity Cup games put together in one package. The sponsors of the PLE as mentioned above can obviously buy into this deal if you look at the exposure guaranteed.
- Infighting between PLE executive & BOGs
Then there was the nastiest side revealed by the Covid-19 pandemic- that of the PLE executive and BOGs not drinking from the same well. Just recently, daggers were drawn with one BOG, Charles Matsebula of Pigg’s Peak Black Swallows to be precise given an ultimatum to show course on why he cannot be charged for bringing the sport we love into disrepute. In a democratic world, unfortunately we are so used to the Tinkhundla system- democratic as it is but opinions and lobbying is always a norm. United States rapper Lil Wayne was mentioned that, ‘It doesn’t make you a good person to criticize before you improvise.
- EFA always has ultimate say
As the debate of whether to resume or not resume football thereof ragged on behind the scenes, with teams filing telephone-figure claims for money lost during the suspension of football we have learned that EFA, as the football governing body will always have the last say. Come to think of it- the PLE in as much as it is regarded as the commercial wing of EFA but they are just one of eight members. In the EFA executive they are represented by its chairman Peter ‘Touch’ Magagula as it is the case with the other members. With majority ruling in the world of democracy, it is safe to say that whatever EFA wants, it goes.
- Players should put education first
And now, going for three months now without pay or half pays with some clubs should have opened footballers’ eyes widely. Save for maybe Mbabane Swallows and Mbabane Highlanders for example- even though the future is not guaranteed but beside the security forces sides’ football clubs have struggled to cope with the perils that came with the novel Coronavirus. Green Mamba, Young Buffaloes, Royal Leopard and maybe Manzini Sea Birds can guarantee full time employment and footballers will know by now that education remains key.