Covid-19: Clubs cry foul over Ferwafa’s ‘unrealistic’ guidelines for new season

AS Kigali right-back Michael Rusheshangoga (C) in action during a past league match against Rayon Sports at Kigali Stadium. The two clubs have said that complying to the guidelines is almost impossible. Courtesy

Local football clubs have criticised Rwanda Football Federation’s (Ferwafa) guidelines to be fulfilled before the new league season starts as too demanding and unrealistic.

The new instructions, which were announced on Saturday, September 12, state that the team’s entire delegation should be tested for Covid-19 and return negative tests within 3 days to their first training session and 3 days prior to the start of Ferwafa competitions.

 

Once tested, all club players and officials must stay in the same residence to ensure that their health is monitored daily as they prepare for the new season and any kind of non-emergency movement outside the camps will be considered as a violation of the guidelines.

 

The home team should also get tested all its operational personnel including stadium staff, stewards, security officers, ball boys and any other person allowed into the match venue.

 

The purpose of the strict measures, Ferwafa has emphasised, is to ensure a safe return of competitions. No football match has been played in the country since March 15, and teams have been instructed not to hold group training.

Following Ferwafa’s announcement of the guidelines, Times Sport spoke to a number of clubs, with most voicing frustration over the cost of the frequent mandatory testing and residential camps.  

AS Kigali

Francis Gasana, the Secretary General of AS Kigali, says that it will be very difficult to follow the guidelines, not because teams are not compliant but because of how expensive and unaffordable it may turn out to be for most clubs.

“Ferwafa should look into other options or be willing to support clubs, otherwise it is going to be very difficult to comply with the guidelines. It is just a lot.”

“For us (AS Kigali), we also have continental football to play and that is extra budget needed.”

AS Kigali, as winners of the 2019 Peace Cup, will represent Rwanda in the 2020/21 Caf Confederation Cup – Africa’s second biggest club competition.

Gicumbi

The Secretary General of topflight league’s relegated side Gicumbi, Antoine Birabakoraho, also echoed the sentiments of his AS Kigali’s counterpart, and called for in-depth consultations between Ferwafa and the clubs so a middle – feasible and affordable – ground can be reached.

“There is need for talks between Ferwafa and clubs about these guidelines. Otherwise, their implementation is a tough challenge for most – if not all – Rwandan teams.”

He added: “We are not against the safety measures, but what is the point if they are not feasible?”

Gicumbi will feature in the second division championship in the upcoming 2020/21 season after finishing bottom of the Rwanda Premier League table in May.

Police

CIP Maurice Karangwa, the Secretary General and spokesperson of Police FC, also acknowledges that "clubs will not easily afford it", but reckoned that guidelines have to be followed if competitions are to be played in a safe environment.

“The fight against the Covid-19 pandemic continues and we cannot undermine its seriousness, so the return of football must be as safe as possible.”

Rayon Sports

For Rayon Sports spokesperson, Jean Paul Nkurunziza, the standard of the Ferwafa guidelines is ‘way above’ what local clubs can afford. “It would be almost impossible for teams to comply.”

He also condemns Ferwafa for not consulting clubs before putting up the regulations.

 “Clubs are stakeholders and their views matter. Ferwafa did not take into consideration the practicality and financial capacity of teams before coming up with the guidelines.”

“Many clubs such as ours earn from gate collections and that income is gone because matches will be played behind closed doors. That, alone, will have a huge impact on our sustainability.”

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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