The Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB) has welcomed the decision by the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare to allow sporting activities to resume.
However, the union has also emphasised the need to protect the health of players when the activities finally start. “It is very encouraging that sporting activities have been allowed to resume.
Our members have been kicking their heels without football and to a larger extent, the prolonged absence of sport has really affected many lives,” FUB secretary-general, Kgosana Masaseng said. Masaseng added there is enough high-level information to outline some principle understanding of what the next season might look like. “There are a few aspects that could be looked into from a high-level and qualitative perspective, including, impact on the clubs’ main revenue streams, the players’ working conditions particularly their employment contracts and salaries. The same has extended to the transfer market,” he said.
He stated the union’s biggest concern is that players will be forced to play a condensed schedule, which will lead to a higher risk of injury in comparison to playing a normal schedule. He added that there is need to consider specific measures to mitigate risks of overload for the pending match schedules.
“You will note that the International Football Association Board (IFAB), board of directors, recently agreed to a further extension of the temporary amendment to Law 3 following representations from several key stakeholders from across the football community. The main reason for the temporary amendment, giving top-level competitions the option of allowing teams to use up to five substitutes in matches comes after an assessment on the impact of COVID-19 on football and, in particular, the often condensed and congested match calendars, which affect the welfare of players,” he said. He further called for the need to develop a stakeholder agreement for the scheduling of matches with appropriate rest periods even under the economic and sporting urge to immediately start the new season.
Masaseng also said the rapid surge of the pandemic has caused short-term challenges for some clubs and players, which include forced rest period, short-time working, and deferred salary. “But it is still unclear what the upcoming months and seasons may hold for the football industry.
Indeed, beyond the immediate impact, it is far too complex to fully capture the long-lasting consequences for the industry as a whole,” he said. He encouraged the BFA and the league to develop specific standards to return to competitions. This should include dedicated monitoring and testing protocols for all personnel entering the stadium, detailed travel guidelines for away teams and third parties, as well as the development of protocols and operational standards for broadcasting requirements, and other media operations since for now, supporters are not allowed at matches,” he said.