As the country is gearing up for football resumption, testing of players will cost about K64 million a month and K512 million by the end of the eight-month season.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has since admitted that clubs have no capacity to pay for the costs and it is banking on the Ministry of Health to do the tests for free.
A single Covid-19 test costs K50 000 and FAM plans to test 35 players and five officials from each club which would cost K2 million.
Testing all 16 TNM Super League clubs will, therefore, cost K32 million and since FAM’s roadmap to return of football states that players will have to be tested at least twice a month, the total cost per month will be K64 million.
With the TNM Super League season lasting at least eight months, the test would cumulatively cost K512 million.
Yet FAM has budgeted about K325 million towards elite football restart and this does not include testing of players.
K160 million will be shared among 16 TNM Super League clubs, each getting K10 million with Super League of Malawi (Sulom) receiving K15 million for its operations.
The association has also allocated K112 million for personal protective equipment (PPE) for elite league players, match organisers, national teams and FAM events.
A further K75 million will go towards governance, trainings and other operational costs for football while match operational costs for health personnel and other compliance officers have been allocated K37 million.
FAM Covid-19 Task Force chairperson Chimango Munthali said they already engaged government to test the players for free.
He said: “The clubs can’t afford to test their players. We will continue the discussion with government on this. They committed in one of the engagement meetings and we are following up with our mother body Malawi National Council of Sports and Ministry of Sports.”
So far, Silver Strikers have tested their players although Munthali said those that cannot afford should wait for FAM to finalise discussion with government.
Sports Council acting executive secretary Henry Mereka was quoted in our sister paper The Nation on Tuesday, as suggesting that Ministry of the Health would test the players for free.
However, Ministry of Health spokesperson Joshua Malango yesterday said the ministry was not aware of the arrangement.
“I don’t think that will be possible. That was not agreed,” he said.
Soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda observed that it would be naïve to put the cost of testing players on government.
He said: “Look, the Ministry of Health is facing shortage of test kits and it has to rely on donations. Putting the responsibility of testing players on government will even put more strain on the already few test kits. FAM should take up the responsibility of shouldering testing of players. After all they got Fifa funding for football restart. That’s what is supposed to be used for.”
Out of a population of slightly over 17 million, Ministry of Health has tested just 53 343 people as of Friday.
Shortage of coronavirus test kits is listed as one of the challenges in the fight against the pandemic worldwide.
Malawi’s scenario is not isolated as even both the USA and United Kingdom have admitted facing the same challenge.
According to World Health Organisation, testing of coronavirus is key in the fight against the pandemic as it helps in isolating those infected to avoid further passing the virus to others.