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Future of African Sports Post-Covid19 Is Bleak – Says Weah

George Weah (left), photo Credit Getty Images

Liberia’s President and former world footballer of the year, George Weah, has indicated that the future of sports in Africa after the Covid-19 pandemic is “bleak and problematic.”

According to him, sport in Africa “is not guaranteed to recover even to pre-Covid-19 levels for many years to come.”

President Weah made the remarks today, May 25, 2020, in a keynote speech delivered virtually during the Africa Sports Ventures Group and UNESCO Online Sports Conference.

The conference was on the future of sports in Africa Post-Covid19.

This crisis will negatively impact all clubs and all leagues in Africa and all national teams, he says.

Impact of precautionary measures

The Liberian leader explained that the precautionary measures being put in place by African “governments to contain the spread of Covid-19, such as lockdowns, social distancing, quarantines, and curfews, will have a devastating and drastic negative impact on sports in general.”

The lifeblood of sports consists mainly of attendance fees and sponsorships, and where these no longer exist, many clubs will collapse, and many leagues will close permanently, according to him.

“On the African continent, where effective scouting feeds our young talented players to the bigger international leagues, these opportunities will no longer exist.”

Resuscitate Sports

There will be an urgent need to resuscitate football and all other games, and to recognize that the people and institutions involved in sports also require some form of sustenance or support to survive until the crisis comes to an end, he says.

Funding Support For Sport

“We fully recognize that this is a health crisis, which is now causing an economic crisis, and that restoration of health and the recovery of our economies take absolute priority to return to normalcy,” President Weah said.

“However, it is important that the global funding that is being raised to fight Covid-19 should recognize the social importance of sports in our economies, and the important contributions that sports make to unity, peacebuilding, and social cohesion.”

” It is therefore important that some consideration be given to making provision for the sustenance and recovery of the sports sector.”

“In soccer, for example, organizing bodies such as FIFA should use their special skills and fund-raising networks to raise awareness of the plight faced by the beautiful game. Special appeals should be made to international bodies such as the United Nations and its agencies, as well as with other large financial institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the Afeximbank.”

“It is unfortunate that this pandemic occurred just when the new leadership at CAF had begun to embark upon programs that would have contributed to significant improvements in sports infrastructure on the continent. It is our hope that FIFA will continue to lend its assistance and support to CAF,” he bemoaned.

Examine Challenges

The Covid-19 pandemic should allow us step back and examine these challenges, he stated.

He added that “this will give us new perspectives that will make us launch into the post-crisis era with new thinking to meet the new realities.”

“While the virus might have disrupted sports, it has not changed our love for it. And it is that deep love for sport that will give us the strength, wisdom, fortitude, and resilience to survive and chart a new course for African sport for the future.”

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