Council for Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa) says Covid-19 vaccine will be mandatory at this year’s regional tournaments.
There are several vaccines for Covid-19, but as of February, World Health Organsiation (WHO) had issued an Emergency Use Listing (EULs) for the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine (BNT162b2) and two versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine.
Cosafa vice-general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda said in an interview yesterday that participants will be required to produce proof that they have been vaccinated against Covid-19.
He said: “Just like the PCR [polymerase chain reaction] or serologic tests, the proof of Covid-19 vaccination will also be mandatory for all those involved in the tournaments. We cannot compromise on that. We need safe environment to host competitions.”
Malawi Government has acquired an initial 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine which is expected to roll out this month.
In the initial phase, it will target 20 percent of the population which include the frontline health workers and other social workers, the elderly and those with comorbidities.
Meanwhile, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) Covid-19 Task Force chairperson Chimango Munthali said they will discuss how to handle the issue of the vaccine for national team players.
He said: “The vaccines give hope to football and other sports since it will mean controlling the spread of the Covid-19.
“But remember, according to the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, the vaccine acquired by Malawi government is not free for all. So, firstly, as the FAM Covid-19 Task Force, we will have to discuss on how to handle the matter.”
Last year Cosafa held women’s senior and Under-17 championships, as well as continental qualifiers in the men’s Under-17 and Under-20 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
However, the flagship men’s Cosafa Cup failed to take place due to travel restrictions in the region induced as a precautionery measure.
This year, the flagship men’s Cosafa Cup is slated for July in Durban while the men’s Under-20 Championship will take its usual slot in December in Eswatini.
The men’s Under-17 and women’s Under-20 competitions will be played as part of the Region 5 Games in Lesotho in December.
The women’s senior championship is scheduled for September in Port Elizabeth while the Women’s Under-17 will be held in August in Namibia.
Cosafa also plans to stage beach soccer tournament in Durban in July, and a first ever Futsal competition in Mozambique in September.