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EFA TO SPEND E0.7M ON TESTING

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MBABANE – It’s a huge financial relief for Premier League of Eswatini (PLE) teams.

The Eswatini Football Association (EFA) has taken the initiative of conducting compulsory COVID-19 testing of all players and officials in the premier league and national first division league. 

This will also include referees and associated officials ahead of the resumption of matches after the two- week break as a result of the partial lockdown in the country. It has now been gathered that the EFA is expected to spend over E800 000 in the process of testing the estimated 1 000 people. 

EFA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Frederick Mngomezulu, in a press briefing, said this was in line with the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, with the aim of ensuring that football competitions are in a safe environment. 

This will also financially save the teams from huge testing costs as they were to spend about E20 000 each when testing a squad of about 30 players. 

The teams were only tested once for COVID-19 and that was in November before the kick off of the season on December 12, 2021. Football is currently under suspension along with other sporting codes in the country, due to the surging number of COVID-19 positive cases and deaths. 

Suspension

Mngomezulu said the suspension of all football competitions, including friendly matches (if applicable) and other football business activities under the auspices of the EFA countrywide is applicable, pending a review of the COVID-19 situation in Eswatini, as prescribed by government.

“As was the case in the original testing at the beginning of the 2020/2021 season, each club will be accorded COVID-19 tests for a maximum of 30 people, inclusive of both players and officials. Detailed information on the scheduling of the COVID-19 tests and format will be communicated in due course by the relevant authorities and officers,” Mngomezulu said.

The EFA lamented the unfortunate distress within which football and its stakeholders find themselves in as a result of the pandemic. Mngomezulu said EFA has to cooperate to stage safe events or take other required actions that protect the health of the players, fans, officials and the broader football and sporting communities.

“Football clubs of the premier and national first division leagues, in an effort to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and to assure compliance with the directive of the government of the Kingdom of Eswatini, are expected to revert back to individual training of players, however, during this period and in order to ensure the maintenance of the physical condition, such training has to be monitored by the relevant technical officials. In this respect, coaches are expected to develop the necessary training programmes and regimes to be adhered by players during this period,” he said.

Closure

Mngomezulu said there would be a partial closure of the national offices at Sigwaca House in Mbabane and the Technical Centre at Lobamba, where most of the departments for which activities have been suspended, will work from home, with only a few remaining, particularly dealing with ongoing international business and the sustenance of the statutory operations of the organisation.

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