The Football Association of Zambia blamed the spike in COVID-19 cases in its league on clubs’ failure “to maintain the isolation of players and officials who tested positive.” There was also “unrestricted access to camping sites and training sessions, failure to observe social distancing, (and a) lack of sanitizers and disinfectants at designated places,” it said.
“It is no longer tenable to continue the league in the present circumstances.”
The FAZ said its top league, which only restarted on July 18, would now end on Aug. 6 and after just one more round of games to decide which club wins the title and which are relegated. The decision came after the ministry of health exerted pressure on the association to take action following the new outbreak.
At least 15 players and four staff members were infected at one club, Napsa Stars based in the capital, Lusaka. Napsa has the chance to win the title. There were warning signs even before the league restarted. Another club, Forest Rangers, announced before the resumption that it had 28 players and staff members with COVID-19. Forest Rangers is also in contention to be crowned champion.
Continental body, the Confederation of African Football, has published guidelines for leagues to follow before restarting but safety measures can only be enforced by national authorities and Zambia's situation clearly shows protocols aren't always followed.
South Africa's league will implement a “bio-bubble” method for each team, where players and officials are kept together in a strictly controlled environment at a hotel. Everyone will be tested for the virus before being allowed to join the team bio-bubble, where they must stay, the league said.
“If you go out of the bubble, you don’t come back,” PSL chairman Irvin Khoza said. “They are going to stay in the bubble, go to training, and come back to the bubble. From the bubble into a match situation, and back into the bubble.”
Kanjere reported from Blantyre, Malawi.
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