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How Coronavirus Has Affected Football In Africa

As Africa scrambles to get a grip of the coronavirus outbreak, sporting events across its 54 nations are taking a hit.

As Africa scrambles to get a grip of the coronavirus outbreak, sporting events across its 54 nations are taking a hit.

There are now more than 700 confirmed cases of the virus around the continent and the death toll is over 20; the majority which are from African footballing nations.

Luckily, no African nation till date has been declared high risk by the World Health Organization (WHO), but the countries have put restrictive measures to control the spread of the disease.

Most of the governments began by advising their citizens to avoid travel into or out of seriously affected countries.

The advisories on air travel have so far had serious impacts on a number of sports events in places where there have been directives in banning all public gatherings.

So how has football been affected?

On February 17th, Africa woke up to sad news that Cairo had reported the first case of Coronavirus. Days later the Egyptian Football Association announced the suspension of football activities in an effort to contain the outbreak.

Other countries started contracting the virus forcing Confederation of African Football (CAF) postponing this month’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers because of the pandemic.

This was after the football governing body observed that several players who were supposed to play the qualifiers come from countries which have been severely affected by the virus in Europe and Asia.

CAF also made an explanation stating that many African governments have imposed strong travel restrictions, which require 14 days of quarantine.

CAF had previously said it would “maintain its schedule” until an African country was declared high-risk, but pressure from members associations forced them to suspend the qualifiers.

The cancellation of the qualifiers was followed by seven nations in the continent cancelling domestic leagues in the battle to contain the virus. These countries include Kenya, Botswana, Sudan, Ethiopia with Ivory Coast, Ghana, Morocco, Gabon, South Africa and DRC following suit through the suspension of football activities.

Suspension of the domestic leagues means that clubs in those countries will lose hundreds of dollars in income from television and ticketing if no more matches are going played this season.

The impact on certain clubs could, therefore, be extremely serious, and the knock-on effects considerable in a country where there is a huge number of people who have employment-based on football.

Another continental football event that has been cancelled is the Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) that was to be hosted by Cameroon.

The fate of the event had been in doubt after defending champions Morocco pulled out, while host nation Cameroon had already asked CAF for a delay.

It had been set to run between 4-25 April but CAF saw it wise to postpone it “until further notice as half of the 16 teams earmarked to contest this year’s CHAN had reported case of coronavirus.

So far, the Bureau of the FIFA Council has recommended that all international fixtures be halted due to international travel restrictions imposed by various governments.

The step to cancel the fixtures is to void any unnecessary health risks and also situations of potential sporting unfairness in all matches previously scheduled to take place in March and April.

The matter brings into question whether the African Champions League final and Confederation Cup final scheduled for the May will be played, basing on the fact that most leagues will not have been effective.

But on Friday, March 20, 2000, CAF assured fans that it was monitoring the situation closely and their officials remain in constant touch with global partners such as WHO, FIFA and State Agencies on the way forward.

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