THE Covid-19 situation has improved greatly and it is high time that the authorities considered increasing the number of sports fans allowed into stadiums from the current 5 000.
The past two years have surely not been the best for Zimbabwean football in particular due to the Covid-19 factor, but the game has returned and for that matter more exciting but what is missing are the crowds.
Football and sport in general is played to entertain the fans and the more we have in the stadiums the better but on condition that they continue to observe Covid-19 protocols as outlined by the government and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
For example, Caps United are today playing Highlanders at the National Sports Stadium and with social distancing that stadium is capable of taking up to 25 000 people or even more without worrying about the spread of Covid-19.
The Chevrons have international engagements lined up at Harare Sports Club and they need as many fans as possible to come and cheer them all the way to victory as they seek to regain lost glory.
Surely, Zimbabwe might be backwards in some ways than most other countries, but not to the extent of failing to move with the times as is happening with the rest of the world in this Covid-19 era.
Sport and football all over the world now allow big crowds or full houses and Zimbabwe is one of the few if not the only one that still restricts entry to 5 000 or less people.
Ironically, word is that the Zimbabwean government has increased the number of people at social gatherings — like musical shows — from 500 to 1000 but forgotten and not considered is the sports industry.
Why should sport and football in particular be an exception when everyday Zimbabweans are bombarded with news and pictures of tens of thousands of people attending political rallies without even observing Covid-19 protocols?
The sports family – as has always been the case – continues to observe the Covid-19 protocols and there is no way they can break the rules simply because the number of fans allowed has been increased.
The demand for vaccination cards, the wearing of masks and above all, the social distancing, have always been maintained and should continue with only the numbers of fans increased.
Surely US$3 is not much to keep the fans away but this 5 000 fan cap has kept some of them at home for fear they might be chased away at the gate on the understanding that 5 000 people are already in the stadium.
Some of the clubs like Caps United, Hwahwa, Tenax and Yadah, who do not have strong sponsors have been heavily affected by the situation as they need the gate takings to survive.
Even those with big sponsors too have not been spared. They also need additional funds from the gates to pay out extra incentives to their players to keep them from moving away to clubs in neighboring countries.
The sponsors are watching events unfold from a distance and they need to benefit fully from their sacrifices through the huge number of fans who attend football matches.
Right now, Delta Beverages are the only sponsor that football has and it would be tragic should football lose the only company that is keeping the sport going.
There are potential sponsors also waiting on the wings but they need a guarantee that their products would be visible to as many people as possible at stadiums for them to come on board.
The fans also want entertainment and can’t wait for a time when they can freely be allowed to enter sporting events without the come first, come served condition.
The clubs are suffering and so too are the sponsors and not mentioning the fans. —Zimbabwe should move with the times and remove the restrictions on how many sports fans should be in stadiums for sporting events.
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