By Harry Awurumibe, Editor, Abuja Bureau
In the light of Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) in partnership with major stakeholders such as FIFA, World Health Organization (WHO) and Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) Thursday organised a unique one-day meeting to brainstorm on the impact of the crisis on African football.
A brainchild of the CAF Safety & Security Department headed by Dr Christian Emeruwa, the virtual meeting, held on Thursday, 2 July 2020, is the first of its kind by a confederation, and highlighted on the integration of health and security as a fundamental organisational responsibility as far as the resumption of football activities on the continent is concerned.
With Safety and Security Officers of the various Member Associations (MA’s) as well as CAF Safety and Security Officers in attendance, the participants underscored the importance of working together with state agencies such as the Ministry of Health and Diseases Control Units of the various MA’s for guidance in the organisation of sporting activities under approved conditions.
“This meeting is the second of this kind by CAF since the COVID-19 pandemic stalled all football activities across Africa. It is important to share experiences and discuss with our counterparts and stakeholders from others parts of the world and fine-tune solutions based on an African perspective,” said Acting CAF General Secretary Abdelmounaim Bah.
On his part, Helmut Spahn, FIFA’s Director of Security, explained the regulatory framework outlined together by FIFA to guide MA’s on the restart of sporting activities especially football.
Representing WHO, Professor Maurizio Barbeschi, Special Adviser to the Executive Director of Health Emergencies, presented a regional overview of the state of COVID-19 across Africa and guidelines for considerations by athletes and officials.
Following the resumption of the Premier League in England, Ken Scott, Head of Inspectorate at SGSA, elaborated on the skills and techniques adopted by his outfit for the organisation of elite sports notably the organisation of matches in the first and lower tiers behind closed doors, whilst explaining measures put in place for the gradual return of fans which could be deployed by African MA’s.
There were also presentations by CAF Director of Competitions, Samson Adamu, on the rescheduling of continental tournaments, influenced the safety and security of the key stakeholders and Dr Emeruwa, on the restrictions and security on the continent.
Also in attendance for the one-day event that drew over 80 participants were Mary Stephen, AFRO Regional Focal Point of WHO; Katharina Steinburg, FIFA Manager for Safety and Security; Massimiliano Montanari, CEO of International Centre for Sports Security and Shahin Rhahin, Asian Football Confederation’s Manager for Safety and Security.
Meanwhile, CAF will continue to work with all stakeholders to monitor the situation across Africa and also be available to provide guidance where and when needed.