COVID-19: Football fans suggest measures for football return

Malawi football fans

A group of concerned football fans have suggested precautionary measures that needs to be put in place for football return in the wake of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Group leaders, led by Nyasa Big Bullets supporters' committee general secretary, Mabvuto Chibambo and his Be Forward Wanderers counterpart, Sam Mponda on Wednesday presented their petition to Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president, Walter Nyamilandu on the prospects of resuming the TNM Super League this month-end.

During the presentation ceremony, Chibambo gave out suggestions to FAM on how the situation can be managed.

"We have discovered that our friends in the politics sector are conducting business as usual commanding huge crowds during their campaign rallies. They are not observing social distance and they are not putting on masks. So there is no point blocking football because even if we don't come to the grounds to watch games as a way of protecting ourselves, we will still catch the virus at home brought by those friends who patronised the rallies. This means we are all not safe, so better we start the games.

"Unlike those politicians, we can put measures where we can place water buckets or hand sanitizers in either four gates and allows only those that have face masks entry. In terms of social distance, we can work on reducing stadiums' capacity. For instance, Kamuzu Stadium hosts 14, 000 people, we can reduce the number to 5, 000, raise the gate charge from K2, 000 to K3, 000 and ensure social distance, while teams maintain getting their usual gate collections," he said.

Chibambo observed that while FAM has made an effort introducing the Relief fund to Super League teams and those in the Regional Leagues, which provides players K40, 000 monthly stipends and food packs, it would not be enough to cater for all other needs.

He said that is the reason they need football back for those teams that have no stable sponsorship and depend on gate collection money.

Chibambo cited that government and the FAM can work out the plan as it has been done in Germany with the Bundesliga.

Nyamilandu with Chibambo (right) at the briefing- photos by Benjamin Maona

Nyamilandu acknowledged the struggle teams face due to the virus, but disclosed that the association's competitions committee and the COVID-19 taskforce will meet on Saturday to plan ahead of the season return.

"It's true Bundesliga is back and teams have started training in the English Premier League. Our committees will meet so that they can plan on the process that teams will have to follow if football returns. We need to have a proper process to be followed. For instance in Germany, they did not just wake up and start playing. Same with EPL, players are training in sizeable numbers. Our players will need time to train to assess their fitness, teams will need sometime for strengh-testing matches. So it is not something we just have to wake up and decide," Nyamilandu said.

FAM suspended all association football in the country after president Peter Mutharika banned gatherings of more than 100 people.