Mbabane: The Government of Eswatini has today announced the return of football with immediate effect after it was suspended late in March this year due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
The announcement was made by the Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini during the editor’s forum breakfast meeting which was held at Hilton-Gardens Inn on Thursday morning .
Dlamini said government is pleased to announce the gradual reopening of organised top level football activities in the country with immediate effect. The premier said this decision has been made with full consideration of the unique obligations posed by international participation requirements.
With AFCON qualifiers set to resume in November, as well as COSAFA Cup and CAF inter-clubs commitments, the country is obligated to honor these games. Dlamini said failure to do so would result in heavy fines as well as the subsequent suspension of various funding from both FIFA and CAF which drives much of the football development we see in the country.
The PM added that government has carefully considered all these factors as well as the nature of COVID-19 in the country and has found it fit to allow the Eswatini Football Association (EFA) to immediately, but carefully proceed with preparations for upcoming international games. This will see national teams go to camp immediately under strict health protocols.
The premier revealed that government has also agreed to allow the top two levels of local football that is the Premier League and National First Division, to resume operations under strict health protocols. The return of football activities will be done under strict protocols which include;
• The unavailability of spectators at any football match and training venues.
• The Eswatini Football Association will ensure that regular screening is conducted on all participants throughout the resumption period.
• Only four match venues will be used to limit the movement of teams.
• All other protocols previously outlined for sporting activities will similarly apply to all football activities unless otherwise stated.
“Government wishes to emphasize that all other levels of football including informal football, remain banned. Furthermore, Sporting codes categorized as middle risk namely; Chess, Gymnastics and Swimming will be allowed to resume with effect from October 12, 2020 under strict COVID-19 protocols,” the PM announced.
Government also allowed the resumption of the Shukuma Eswatini outreach programme. The Shukuma programme will be limited to a maximum of 100 participants, practicing social distancing and all activities will be held outdoors and limited to a duration of not more than two hours.
Government will regularly send inspectors to all sports and arts activities to ensure compliance. Any sporting entity or artist and venue found not to be adhering to the laid down protocols will be banned from continuing with activities.
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