By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde
Sports Writer, Nigeria

The Eswatini Football Association, EFA has concluded the 2019-2020 football season in the Southern African country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, can report.

After some through consultations and analysis of the current situation in relation to the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Eswatini Football Association (EFA) in a much-anticipated meeting held on Thursday, 20th August 2020 decided to conclude the 2019/20 football season.

“During this protracted period of consultations, various scenarios have been analysed culminating to a meeting of the Executive Committee on the 20 August 2020, where, after critical analyses of this force majeure circumstance of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already placed football into an unparalleled hiatus, and the responsibility to assure the practice of the football business prospectively in an optimal environment, albeit imperfectly as a result of the pandemic, decided that the 20219/20 football season, as at the 20 August 2020, is decided as at the point at it which it was concluded with the determination of the winners and promotions, as per the standings at the point, however, without the effect of relegations,” Mr. Mngomezulu, the General Secretary (GS) of the EFA said in a press conference held at Sigwaca House.

According to the Council of Southern African Football Association, COSAFA website, Mr. Mngomezulu also stated that this decision was taken after the EFA considered a number of factors which include the following:

The current restriction, as prescribed by Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini, in the fight against the universal catastrophe of the COVID-19, particularly the restrictions on the practice of sport, which to this date has not allowed football to resume;

Disturbance probabilities to following football seasons of 2020/21 and 2021/22, which are generally expected to be in synchronization with the rest of the global football. In this regard, a protracted delay in the conclusion of the 2019/20 football season will have adverse effects on the onset and conclusion of the above mentioned two seasons.

The issue of registration of players and clubs, including the status and transfer of football players, where most significantly some football clubs were already at risk of losing players, without having the possibility to replenish due to the regulation to conclude the 2019/20 season utilizing the same players. For international transfers, it would have proved to be too cumbersome for many.

The consistency of the application or applicability of the 2019/20 football season conclusion scenarios, across all leagues of the country, where it was discovered that the conditions varied significantly, hence there was a need to avoid major disturbances or discrepancies in the uniformity of application;

The implication of the application of the established football resumption strategy, especially, the time needed to execute the strategy, in relation to the commencement of the 2020/21 season and its severity probability of also affecting the 2020/21 football season, taking into account that the football association still has international obligations;

The strain to be posed on the current and future budgets for the practice and sustenance of the business, where it was discovered that the practice of the football business, will require additional budgets to the usual;

The available facilities for competitions and associated business, to optimally respond to the requirements of hosting safe matches during this high COVID-19 transmission period.

Some of the key facilities like stadiums that host most of the competitions are currently inaccessible; and
In doing all these, the EFA has to remain in conformity with the guiding principles of placing the health of all individuals and groups, who participate in the game of football at various levels.

COVID-19 pandemic has led to the cancellation of football leagues in Africa and across the world. Some leagues resumed recently like the South African, Egyptian, Zambian, Tanzanian leagues, while some have been cancelled like the Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL amongst other leagues.

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