Let supporters watch football games, save clubs

SO, the MTN/FAZ Super League has technically kicked off with the Samuel ‘Zoom’ Ndhlovu Charity Shield having taken place this weekend.

Anyway, today I want to send a passionate appeal to the government, through the Ministry of Health, to give the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) clearance to allow fans watch their clubs. You see, we understand that COVID-19 is here to stay and we must live through it, we must manage it.

I will refer to my previous argument on this score. Bars, taverns and nightclubs have been allowed to operate for six hours each day for three weekend days – from Friday to Sunday. It means that these congested public places operate for 18 hours or more, depending on the adherence levels. As it has been observed, most of them hardly comply with strict adherence to the stated time limits. But football only needs 90+3 minutes on a Saturday or Sunday depending on the broadcast schedule, but normally it is only on Saturdays. And these football venues are not as packed as some nightclubs and bars in townships, especially with European football now in action.

So, how can a football stadium remain strictly closed in the midst of what we are seeing in drinking places, markets and bus stations? We are not saying here that bars, nightclubs and taverns should be closed, we understand their importance to the national economy. But football has equal contribution to the well-being of the economy and job creation in the country. Therefore, it’s not fair to stigmatise football in these anti-Covid campaigns.

Look at political rallies, and I don’t want to sound political, in fact I don’t like discussing politics in football because politics is a very divisive matter while football is a unifier. But, in relation to COVID-19 spreading, it will be unfair to keep football fans shut out of the stadium for fear of the virus spreading while politicians hold huge mobilisation rallies with very few masked faces in sight.

We can’t compare Zesco vs Nkana match to recent by-election rallies in Mwansabombwe and Lukashya constituencies by both PF and the opposition. Even the largest stadium in the country, the National Heroes stadium with the sitting capacity of 50,000 cannot contain any of those rallies being referred to. That’s just an example, anyway.

Given, if it’s about the biggest derby in the land, Power Dynamos vs Nkana that usually records capacity crowds, it would be vital for the Ministry of Health to share the formula that lessens the spread of the virus at political rallies to the clubs so that supporters can enjoy the derby the same way cadres enjoy rallies. What is good for the goose must be good for the gander!

Now, the most important argument for me on this score is football economics. You see, due to the poor economic conditions prevailing in the country, football has been hit hard. And if matches continue to be played behind closed doors, without fans buying tickets, without clubs selling their merchandise, clubs will die, football will die, jobs will be lost. This is a fact.

Most clubs are struggling and it is not just in Zambia, but also worldwide. But our friends still have big corporates powering their accounts, unlike us who depend on little sponsorship and match day income both at club and national team levels.

Clubs need those gate-takings, they need to sell replica jerseys, they need to sell club paraphernalia, food and drinks on match day to raise money to pay players, and other needs of the club, otherwise we cannot go another season behind closed doors; clubs will collapse.

Expecting corporate sponsorship to the fullest is a pipe dream for most clubs because business houses aren’t performing that well. We already have an example, Nakambala Leopards is no more due to lack of sponsorship. Equally, advertisers follow crowds, so clubs can raise money from pitch perimeter adverts. But in this case… Please, don’t kill football, save clubs. These are just as important to the economy as bars, taverns and nightclubs, if not even more important…

I am aware that the FAZ has written to the Ministry of Health and are awaiting response, please ba minister expedite the process. Your Excellency President Edgar Lungu, kindly step in and save football from collapsing.

Save football! Save jobs! Save the economy! VIVA NEW NORMAL!

dariouskapembwa6@gmail.com, WhatsApp only: 0979116328

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