Football to resume as government lifts restrictions on contact sports
The sporting fraternity in Nigeria, especially football stakeholders yesterday heaved a sigh of relief as the government through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 lifted restrictions on outdoor activities including football.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha who announced the decision in Abuja at the joint national briefing of the Task Force said this was part of the PTF’s recommendations approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He, however, said this was not prejudicial to the observance of the PTF guidelines on mass gathering, usage of facemasks and other COVID-19 protocols.
He said, "The major changes proposed by the PTF are gradual and safe re-opening of schools and NYSC camps; re-commencement of sporting leagues, in particular all outdoor activities such as football; sustaining the midnight to 4am curfew on movement nationwide; and removal of the limitation on civil servants allowed to come to work."
In the same vein, the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, said mass gathering including at sport events is still restricted as this represents an opportunity for the virus to spread with an increased rate of a second wave.
The implication is that for now football will reopen without spectators in the sporting arenas.
It will be recalled that following the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus, the federal government suspended all sporting activities since the beginning of March.
The Nigerian Football Federation followed suit as it announced the suspension of all on-field football activities before the eventual cancellation of the football season.
However, following the resumption of almost all sporting activities elsewhere, beginning with the major football leagues in Europe, sports stakeholders in Nigeria have continued to mount pressure on the government to lift restrictions on contact sports.