THE Footballers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Fuz) has painted a gloomy picture of the current state of affairs in the local game which has been in limbo since March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19, government put in place a blanket ban on all sporting activities since last year.
Following consultations with the authorities last year, Zifa and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) were obligated by the government to put in place a bio-secure bubble for the game to return.
However, nothing materialised since Zifa and the PSL were not in a financial position to bankroll the bubble concept.
Up to this day, the PSL is the only top flight league in the region which is inactive and there is no clear date of when that is likely to change.
Just like Zimbabwe, most countries in the Sadc region are still grappling with new Covid-19 infections and deaths but their football leagues are operating during the pandemic.
Fuz believes the continued ban of local football has had a negative impact on the lives and careers of the players as they have been left in oblivion.
“At the moment, most players and coaches are in limbo as they do not know what the future holds for them.
“For some, their contracts have expired and they don’t know where they stand as they have families to take care of and rentals to pay.
“It’s difficult for players at the moment because clubs are also not sure when and if the game will eventually resume,” Fuz secretary-general, Thomas Sweswe, told the Daily News yesterday.
As a result of more than 10 months of inaction, players have resorted to unorthodox means for survival.
“At the end of the day, some players are risking their careers and lives by playing in money games so that they can get something to survive.
“It’s a very tight situation, players are not sure of their futures and they are putting a lot at risk by engaging in such unsanctioned games.
“Our hope is that a solution is found soon and at the end of the day, football must return so that players can be able to take care of their families,” the former Kaizer Chiefs defender said.
Sweswe urged Zifa and the PSL to come up with a proper plan so that the domestic game finally returns in a safe environment.
“We need to follow health protocols for our game to resume so that the players and the officials are all safe from this virus and they cannot transmit it back to their families at home.
“So, we believe for the game to start this has to be followed and make sure the players are safe. Once all health protocols are followed, we can resume our football again,” he added.
Last year, there was a huge concern with the state of local stadia after only a handful of venues were given the greenlight to host top flight matches.
Sweswe believes stadia proprietors should have used all this down time since last year to get their facilities up to scratch.
“What is also key is for our fields to be in a good state for the game to also return. The last time I checked, our fields were not in a position to stage matches, I’m not sure that if there has been any change.
“I hope the city council have been fixing the fields so that when football eventually returns, players will be safe from injuries.
“Councils and stadia owners should have taken advantage of this lockdown to have fixed and renovated their facilities.
“We can sort out all the health protocols for the game to return but only to find out that the stadia are not ready; it won’t make sense at all,” he said.