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League restart logistics: Dar, Mwanza picked as centres

THE government has selected Dar es Salaam and Mwanza as the two centres to be used for the remaining matches of the four football leagues, whose official date to resume is from June 1st this year.

President John Magufuli picked June 1st this year as the official date to resume all sport activities in the country, while insisting that engaging in sports is a reliable preventive method to fight against diseases including the coronavirus.

The leagues which have been cleared so far are the Mainland Premier League, Azam Sports Federation Cup (ASFC), First Division League (FDL) and Second Division League (SDL) respectively while other competitions are still on pause until further notice.

This was disclosed yesterday by the Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports Harrison Mwakyembe at a press briefing in Dodoma barely one day after President John Magufuli picked June 1st as the official date to restart sports events.

Minister Mwakyembe said the aim was to secure winners of the respective league as well as country’s representatives in the CAF club championships next season as well as to determine teams that will earn promotion to upper divisions and those, which will be relegated to lower divisions.

“I gave the ministry experts’ terms of reference to guide them when restarting the leagues because we really need to be cautious. President Magufuli clearly insisted that we should not be complacent. “We need to be cautious because we are still in war against Covid-19… sports activities normally pull huge followings and we need to be cautious because coronavirus has not been completely defeated. We only need to learn how to live with the pandemic,” said Mwakyembe.

Speaking in Dodoma yesterday, Mwakyembe said the government is aware that some clubs are operating in a shoestring budget hence they need support, this is why he gave the ministry experts’ terms of reference to guide them when restarting the leagues.

“We know that clubs will find it difficult to travel from one edge of the country to the other to honour their league matches and we have come up with best modality to finish the league,” said the minister.

“After meetings we have had in collaboration with health experts, we have decided to select the two centres (Dar es Salaam and Mwanza) so as to cut down travelling costs for the teams since most of them are suffering financial hardship.

“In Dar es Salaam, we have picked three venues which are Azam Complex, Uhuru Stadium and the National Stadium to be used by teams, which trade in the top flight and ASFC only. “In Mwanza, CCM Kirumba Stadium and Nyamagana Stadium will host FDL and SDL games only,” Mwakyembe said.

He however stressed that the National Stadium will have to be used wisely since it does not have capacity to host three games within a week due to the nature of the pitch of which, he said is very expensive to maintain unlike the artificial arenas like at Uhuru Stadium and Azam Complex.

About whether to allow spectators at the stadiums or not, Mwakyembe said only few number of fans (10 to 20) will be allowed to give morale to the players on the battlefield.

“Each team will be allowed to have a specific number of fans not exceeding 20 people, who will be seated in a way to respect social distance but they will all be tested before accessing into the venues,” he said.

He again pointed that each team will be allowed to get in with all players plus their substitutes and technical bench staff, whereby all of them will be thoroughly tested prior to getting inside the playing venues.

He also ordered the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) to ensure match officials are paid their dues before the leagues restart.

Mwakyembe further said that clubs are free from starting training immediately but must observe social distancing.

He warned players against spitting on the pitch, pile celebrations as well as hand shaking and any other behaviours that would put them in risk of being infected.

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