Now you see it, now you don’t … clubs unsure of PSL bubble taking off

FOOTBALL clubs and stakeholders are concerned with the local game’s ability to meet the high costs of the bio-secure bubble in light of the government’s recent decision to allow Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) to tour Pakistan.

ZC became the biggest local sporting code to be given the green light to return to international competition after they were granted permission on Wednesday to tour the Asian country amidst the current coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Since March, the government has banned domestic sport, and barred all national teams from touring under the national lockdown measures to fight the spread of the novel virus.
The Zimbabwe cricket team leaves for Pakistan on October 20 ahead of the series, which features three ODIs and three T20Is in November.
While this was a welcome development as it is likely to pave way for the rest of the sporting codes to soon get the green light to resume activities and international assignments; football stakeholders feel the country’s number one sport faces a major stumbling in the form of a lack of resources.
The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) are desperate for the domestic game’s resumption since the Warriors and FC Platinum have important upcoming continental assignments.
The Warriors are set to resume their 2022 Africa Cup of Nations Group H qualifiers with back-to-back clashes against reigning African champions Algeria in November.
FC Platinum are also set to participate in the 2020/21 African Champions League campaign beginning with the preliminary round at the end of the same month.
At the start of this month, Zifa submitted their return to play protocols to the authorities and Sports minister Kirsty Coventry responded by suggesting that football adopts a bio-secure bubble concept for the game’s resumption.
Dynamos chairperson Isaiah Mupfurutsa welcomed the government’s decision to allow cricket to resume but is skeptical football will be able to meet the financial requirements of the bubble model.
“The government’s decision to allow the cricket national team to tour Pakistan gives hope for football to resume and we are excited.
“That (bubble concept) will be a tall order. The costs will be astronomical and we would need additional support over and above our current budget,” Mupfurutsa told the Daily News yesterday.
Harare City chairperson Alois Masepe said in order for the bubble concept to work, clubs would need financial support from the government.
“The government must step in to ensure the sports sector gets to its feet again. After Fifa’s gesture, the baton has been passed to the government.
“It is pleasing to observe that the Ministry of Sport hasn’t shied away from taking responsibility and is leading from the front.
“This coronavirus menace is not a sectoral issue; it isn’t a Zifa, PSL or club thing; bear in mind that it is not only the PSL clubs that require rescue…all clubs down to divisions and regions require support.
“The bio-secure bubble must touch all the key organs of our football. It’s a national issue and requires full government intervention,” Masepe told the Daily News. 
Highlanders’ spokesperson Ronald Moyo said the Bulawayo giants needed to be fully briefed on all the technicalities of the bio-bubble concept.
“We can only be able to comment on our ability or inability to meet those terms once we have received official communication from Zifa and PSL on the direction our football is taking.
“We can’t say we can be able or unable to meet requirements or conditions that have not been officially brought to our attention,” Moyo said.
Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela said they remain hopeful the government will give them the green light for the game’s return.
“We wrote to the SRC seeking authorisation to resume football but nothing has come up yet.
“We see that cricket has been authorised and we hope the SRC will understand our plight too,” Gwesela told the Daily News.  
Zifa Northern Region chairperson Martin Kweza believes the recent move by the government gives hope for local football and the return of the game could also be on the horizon.
“We note with excitement the approval of cricket resumption by the government. We are also expecting the government to approve Zifa’s protocols for football to resume.
“Current statistics reveal that the Covid-19 numbers are going down each day and I don’t see why the government should not approve the Zifa protocols. Football is an industry, a big one for that matter, and a lot of lives have been affected due to the inactivity.
“There are a lot of people who look up to football for their livelihoods like players, coaches, referees, administrators and a lot more and they are finding it difficult because of the current lockdown.
“Apart from that, we also have important assignments coming up for the national team and for FC Platinum and the time to prepare is now.
“So, it will surely be difficult for the association and FC Platinum to plan without the green light for the return of football.
“So, yes, we are hopeful that the government will allow the resumption of football soon,” Kweza told the Daily News. 

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