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THE EFA DECIDES TO END THE 2019/20 FOOTBALL SEASON

After some through consultations and analysis of the current situation in relation to the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Eswatini Football Association (EFA) in a much anticipated meeting held on Thursday, 20th August 2020 decided to conclude the 2019/20 football season.

 “During this protracted period of consultations, various scenarios have been analysed culminating to a meeting of the Executive Committee on the 20th August 2020, where, after critical analyses of this force majeure circumstance of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already placed football into an unparalleled hiatus, and the responsibility to assure the practice of the football business prospectively in an optimal environment, albit imperfectly as a result of the pandemic, decided that the 20219/20 football season, as at the 20th August 2020, is decided as at the point at it which it was concluded with the determination of the winners and promotions, as per the standings at the point, however, without the effect of relegations”, Mr. Mngomezulu, the General Secretary (GS) of the EFA said in a press conference held at Sigwaca House on Friday, 21st August 2020.

He also stated that this decision was taken after the EFA considered a number of factors which include the following:

  • The current restriction, as prescribed by Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini, in the fight against the universal catastrophe of the COVID-19, particularly the restrictions on the practice of sport, which to this date has not allowed football to resume;
  • Disturbance probabilities to following football seasons of 2020/21 and 2021/22, which are generally expected to be in syc with the rest of the global football. In this regard, a protracted delay in the conclusion of the 2019/20 football season will have adverse effects on the onset and conclusion of the above mentioned two seasons.
  • The issue of registration of players and clubs, including the status and transfer of football players, where most significantly some football clubs were already at risk of losing players, without having the possibility to replenish due to the regulation to conclude the 2019/20 season utilizing the same players. For international transfers, it would have proved to be too cumbersome for many.
  • The consistency of the application or applicability of the 2019/20 football season conclusion scenarios, across all leagues of the country, where it was discovered that the conditions varied significantly, hence there was a need to avoid major disturbances or discrepancies in the uniformity of application;
  • The implication of the application of the established football resumption strategy, especially, the time needed to execute the strategy, in relation to the commencement of the 2020/21 season and its severity probability of also affecting the 2020/21 football season, taking into account that the football association still has international obligations;
  • The strain to be posed on the current and future budgets for the practice and sustenance of the business, where it was discovered that the practice of the football business, will require additional budgets to the usual;
  • The available facilities for competitions and associated business, to optimally respond to the requirements of hosting safe matches during this high COVID-19 transmission period. Some of the key facilities like stadiums that host most of the competitions are currently inaccessible; and
  • In doing all these, the EFA has to remain in conformity with the guiding principles of placing the health of all individuals and groups, who participate in the game of football at various levels.

 

EFA MEMBERS GENERAL ASSEMBLES RESCHEDULED

The Eswatini Football association (EFA) has rescheduled its member association’s general assemblies. This is due to the suspension of football competitions and activities countrywide, with competitions set to resume at a later date. “The EFA Member associations and Leagues are hereby informed that following the suspension of football competitions and activities countrywide, with competitions set to resume at a later date until their conclusion, a situation which also saw the extension of the 2019/2020 football season, the hosting of the Ordinary General Assemblies (OGA s) or Annual General Meeting (AGMs) for the EFA Members is deferred to the end of the extended 2019/2020 football season pending the review of the COVID-19 pandemic situation in August 2020” said the EFA circular.

This decision was based on the prevailing and/or prescribed COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on the discharge of the normal and statutory business of the EFA Members during the COVID-19 pandemic period. “The COVID-19 health threat has remained precarious over this period and as such the EFA is mindful of the objectives of organizing OGAs where all affected members are able to extend and optimally discharge their statutory business”, read the circular.

The other reason for the postponement was because it won’t be possible to confirm the promotions and relegations due to the extension of the 2019/2020 football season. “The extension of the 2019/2020 football season has a substantial and statutory bearing on the promotion and relegation of football clubs. General Assembly business in a majority of the EFA Members statutorily involves amongst others the confirmations of promotions and relegations; and the primary outlay of the business of the preceding football season as well as the forthcoming football season”, the EFA said.

The third reason was based on the financial reports to be done by the EFA members to their affiliates which won’t be practical until the football season is concluded. “The statutory reporting and accountability of EFA members to their own members, including financial accountability, expected to be discharged at the business of the general assemblies, which is principally relies upon a football season being concluded”, the circular read.

The other reason was based on the review meeting of the EFA Executive Committee to be held in August. “The review meeting of the EFA Executive Committee in August 2020, which will provide a momentous direction on the discharge of the statutory and normal football business amid the persistent COVID-19 situation”, the circular read.

The last reason in the circular was on the fact that the COVID-19 situation was a force majeure. “The circumstance of the COVID-19 constitutes a situation of force majeure, and the EFA Executive Committee, in observance of the EFA Statutes, is statutorily tasked with the supreme authority in the implementation of measures under its auspice. This is implemented obviously in compliance with the dictates of FIFA and associated statutory provisions that relate to timelines of hosting and the business of OGAs of the EFA members are hereby accordingly waived”, the EFA concluded.   

SIMPLE THE BEST-MATHOKOZA THWALA AND THOKOZANI MKHULISI

Two Green Mamba FC players by the name of Njabulo Thwala and Thokozani Mkhulisi got their rewards of excelling during the 2019/20 SMVA Ingwenyama Cup competition in an event the was held at the Happy Valley Hotel under strict adherence of the COVID-19 health precautions. This awarding ceremony was for both the football (main completion and regional competition) and the cultural competition respectively.

The champions of the main football competition Green Mamba FC and the regional champions were both given their prizes. Green Mamba FC got E1 4000 000.00 whilst Manchester United got E42 500.00 respectively. The player of the series for this edition was Njabulo Thwala who got E15 000.00 and a trophy and Thokozani Mkhulisi won himself E10 000.00 and a trophy for being the best goalkeeper. The top goal scorer for this edition was Malanti Chiefs FC’s Charles Molope who got himself E10 000.00. Manchester United FC’s Wakhile Shongwe was the best player of the regional competition. For his effort he got E5 000.00. The best referee of this edition was FIFA accredited referee Thembinkosi Dlamini. The best Public Relations Ofiicer (PRO) was Paul Masilela from Mbabane Highlanders FC.

THE EFA HOSTS THE 2020 OAG

The Eswatini Football Association (EFA) hosted its 2020 Ordinary General Assembly (OGA) at the Happy Valley Hotel in Ezulwini. This event was implemented on Sunday, 28th June 2020 after the EFA was granted by the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to do so. During this gathering, the EFA presented both the organisation’s activity and financial reports to the delegates who are also the Executive Members of the member associations of the football association.


During this meeting, the President of the EFA, Mr. Adam Mthethwa highlighted that due to the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic; the football competitions remain suspended as previously decided by the Executive Committee of the EFA. “The most probable question that is encountered is that of the negativity of the wait to resume football or decide on the fate of the 2019/20 season. To this end, the Executive Committee will convene in August 2020 to review the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic and consequently advise its members and stakeholders”, Mthethwa said.


The President of the EFA also highlighted on the progress of organisation’s infrastructure developments, sustained rebranding of the EFA, regional football governance and management capacitation, capacity building for football personnel, EFA’s football statutes, and the fiscal ecosystem in the football business.

EFA’S INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS GAINING MOMENTUM

The Eswatini Football Association (EFA) continues to leave a mark in as far as the infrastructure development in the country is concerned. This is evident with the construction of the EFA’s Technical Centre in Lobamba, the King Sobhuza II Stadium in Nhlangano and the yet to be finalized regional Technical Centre at KaLanga. “Over and above the King Sobhuza II Stadium, which is now in full operation, housing the Shiselweni Regional Football Association and also providing a source of revenue generation, the mini-stadium and regional Technical Centre at KaLanga, in the Lubombo Region, a FIFA Forward Project, is also complete”, said the EFA President Mr. Adam Mthethwa. This facility will house the Lubombo Regional Football Association as well as provide an income generation platform for the regional football association. The finalization of this project has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The next stop in as far as the EFA’s infrastructure development projects are concerned is Mkhuzweni where the football association will construct a mini-stadium and regional centre in Northern Hhohho. “The Executive Committee has now set its sight on the implementation of the mini-stadium and regional technical centre at Mkhuzweni, in the northern Hhohho, with the construction commencement scheduled for August 2020”, Mthethwa said. This FIFA Forward project is valued at over E23 Million. After this project, the EFA will be left with the Manzini Region as it decentralizes the football facilities to all the four regions of the country.

THE EFA ALLOCATES OVER E2.2 MILLION AS COVID-19 PANDEMIC RELIEF FUND FOR HER MEMBER ASSOCIATIONS

The effects of the COVID-19 continue to affect every sector of the economy including the football industry. This has adversely affected all the stakeholders of football including the member associations of the Eswatini Football Association (EFA). As a way of mitigating the financial effects of this pandemic, the EFA has E2, 275, 000.00 (Two Million Two Hundred and Seventy-Five Emalangeni), to its member associations. This was disclosed by the General Secretary (GS) in a press conference that was held at Sigwaca House on Tuesday afternoon.

“The Executive Committee, as has earlier asserted, whilst waiting for the mooted FIFA’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, having analysed its financial capacities in careful consideration of its continuance to assure the survival of the association and inherent pertinent football business prosperity, has decided to allocate an amount equivalent to E2, 275, 000.00, to its member associations to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 threat” said the GS of the EFA Mr. Frederick Mngomezulu. The member associations are the Hhohho Regional Football Association, Lubombo Regional Football Association, Manzini Regional Football Association, Shiselweni Regional Football association, Premier League of Eswatini, Women Football association, Eswatini Coaches Association and Eswatini Referees Association. The Regional Football Associations will each get  E300 000.00, Premier League will get E700 000.00, Women Football Association, Eswatini Coaches Association and Eswatini Referees Association will each get E125 000.00.

The details on the utilization and accountability of these funds will be communicated to the member associations. “Details on the utilization and accountability of the allocated funds will be advanced to respective members” Mngomezulu said. It is expected that the members will receive this money before the end of this week. The GS also highlighted that the football association haven’t yet received the FIFA COVID-19 Relief Fund. “The definite relief fund, for which the subject of the relief fund was borne, has not yet been determined by FIFA, as FIFA task teams are currently, finalizing the impact assessment of the COVID-19 pandemic across the 211 Member Association of FIFA and their germane financial governance institutional processes.

EFA UNVEIL A STRATEGY FOR THE RESUMPTION OF FOOTBALL COMPETITIONS

The Eswatini Football Association (EFA) has come up with a strategy for the resumption of football competitions. This strategy is yet to be presented to Government and the pertinent stakeholders. Speaking in a press conference, the General Secretary (GS) of the EFA Mr. Frederick Mngomezulu highlighted that the strategy is categorised into four phases. Of great significance within the implementation of the strategy there will be weekly COVID-19 tests, with expected regular daily screening of players, officials, match officials and appropriate working staff, as they attend their training, preparation programme and matches.

“The football association has developed a four-phased strategy comprising of the biological, preparation, pre-competition and competition phases”, Mngomezulu said. The biological phase is a pre-preparation period where the major activities will revolve around the preparation of football clubs, match venues and appropriate legislations for the resumption of football competitions and the larger business of football. “This will be the most critical stages where there will be testing of football players, officials, and match officials to establish the COVID-19 status including the preparation of match venues and appropriate regulations”, the GS stated. If the health condition in terms of the COVID-19 status quo improves, an adjustment to this phase can be made in such a way that it is reduced to two weeks instead of three.

The preparation phase involves the resumption of training of football clubs, which has also been divided to individual training sub-phases to take one week, and group training sub-phases to take two weeks. “This phase will take a total of three weeks, when taking into the account the one week individual training and two weeks group training”, Mngomezulu said. If the COVID-19 status quo improves, this phase will be increased to two weeks instead of one week.

The pre-competition phase will be the period when the whole teams will train including the playing of practice matches. This will be a one week phase. Finally, the competition phase will be basically the implementation of the competitions. “This phase will take eight weeks; and could be extended to ten weeks depending on the concluding rounds of competitions, some which may need to be played concurrently hence requiring on extended time”, the GS stated.

This whole strategy is estimated to take 14 weeks, a period which could be extended to 16 weeks, in the event the competition phase is extended by 2 weeks. The estimated commencement of this strategy is the 15th June 2020 depending on the discussion and conventions with the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini and pertinent stakeholders.

EXTEND PLAYERS CONTRACTS-EFA

As the 2019/2020 football season is extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Eswatini Football Association (EFA) has directed the football clubs to extend the contracts for the players who were due to expire at the end of the initial period of 2019/2020season. “This will allow football clubs to utilize their current squads of players to conclude the season”, Mngomezulu said. He also highlighted that this extension of contracts is in compliance with the guidelines that have been issued by FIFA, as FIFA has accordingly amended the FIFA Regulations from the Status and Transfer of Players to accommodate the extended seasons globally. In this regards, the EFA encourages football clubs to engage their respective players and other employees such as coaches and other employees by the football clubs to find a lasting solution for the discharge of the football responsibilities during this COVID-19 pandemic period. “Football clubs are reminded to ensure that the applicable national laws are respected with respect to employment are accordingly respected”, Mngomezulu stated.

NEW REGISTRATION PERIOD FOR THE 2020/2021 FOOTBALL SEASON

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020/2021 football season will have a new registration period. With the proposed resumption of competition strategy being crafted by the EFA, football clubs will be accorded a three week break at the end of its implementation in order for them to prepare for the resumption of the new season where after the new registration window period for the 2020/2021 football season will be established. “This will give an opportunity to football clubs to be engaged in the players’ transfer business and register players for the new season”, said the EFA’s General Secretary Mr. Frederick Mngomezulu. The definite registration dates will be communicated and approved with FIFA in the FIFA Connect Registration Platform.

THE EFA APPEALS TO HER MEMBERS TO HANDLE THE COVID-19 SITUATION WITH CARE

The Eswatini Football Association’s (EFA) President, Mr. Adam Mthethwa has appealed to the Members of the football association to handle the COVID-19 pandemic situation in as far as football in the country is concerned with care. This is after a lot has been said over the media and other platforms by some member associations which of cause tarnish the image of the EFA.

“There have been a lot of reactions after the EFA suspended football matches in the country”, said Mthethwa in a press conference that was held at Sigwaca House this afternoon. It is a fact that after this decision by the EFA Executive Committee was implemented, there were numerous reactions from some stakeholders of the EFA. The President clarified that when the EFA took this decisions, she accommodated all her stakeholders. “The EFA accommodated all her stakeholders when taking this decision”, Mthethwa said. Having said that, the EFA President highlighted that up to now, none of the Members of the EFA have raised any views formally regarding the current situation.

The President also highlighted that, the Member Associations are free to advice the football association in a responsible manner however; it is only the EFA that has the authority to implement such football decisions on the land. “It is only the EFA that can take such decisions and Member Associations can only advice on such in a responsible manner”, Mthethwa said. He also elaborated that this decision was a fair one under the current situation.

When quizzed about the possibility of cancelling the current football season, the EFA President stated that further consultations will need to be made as there are a lot of issues that may need to be addresses which won’t be easy to do so. “Cancellation of the current football season is not the only opinion and if that is the case, further consultations will be needed as a lot of issues must be addressed”, Mthethwa said. This implies that football matches will resume after the EFA gets advice from government to do so.

As for the FIFA Relief Fund which is a topical issue to some EFA stakeholders, the EFA President has requested that this issue must be left to the football association together with the FIFA Forward issues. “It is only the EFA that can deal with the issues of the FIFA Forward and Relief Fund thus we appeal to the Members to respect the structures of football”, the President said. In conclusion; he appealed to the EFA Members to handle the COVID-19 pandemic situation in a responsible manner so that the brand of the football association is protected and also the interests of the sponsors are prioritised.

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