What seemed so far-fetched is now a reality. The 2020 season is now lost after government gazetted new laws banning all public gatherings, shattering any hopes of the resumption of football any time soon.
The new laws come at a time Football Association of Malawi (FAM) was awaiting a response from the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 to resume football.
In the roadmap, FAM had planned to resume football with reduced capacity or if the worse came to the worst, with no fans.
FAM suspended football just a day before the 2020 TNM Super League season kick-off on March 21 following government’s ban on all sporting activities.
However, the newly-gazetted Pubic Health Coronavirus and Covid-19 Prevention, Containment and Management Rules, 2020 have banned wholesale public gatherings.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu yesterday cast doubt on resuming football this season under the new laws.
He said: “Our football restart plan was largely based on resuming football with the fans under strong sanitary measures and strict social distancing protocols.
“It will be tough under the prevailing circumstances where the infection of Covid-19 has reached peak levels in the country.
“Secondly, we need to be ready to fully comply with the new laws that have been gazetted with regard to prevention and containment of Covid-19; otherwise we will be in breach.”
FAM had planned to abandon the 2020 season once the association failed to get the greenlight to start the season by September.
Nyamilandu said following the new developments, the plan has to be activated.
Asked what would be the fate of FAM’s proposal to resume football, the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 chairperson Dr. John Phuka said they would be guided by the law.
“When the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 looks at the matter, it will certainly be guided by the law,” he said.
Former Silver Strikers general secretary Thabo Nyirenda, a lawyer by profession, said since football is not part of essential services, it cannot be exempted from the ban on all public gatherings.
He said: “Football is not expressively listed among essential services, it has been excluded. The dream for the resumption of football in Malawi anytime soon has, therefore, been shattered. Meetings on resumption of football would be an exercise in futility and a waste of resources.”
As of Friday, Malawi had registered 4 575 confirmed cases, 2 184 recoveries and 137 deaths.