Covid-19 & Football: PWD Bamenda Picks Pandemic Crown, Breaks 58-Year-old-Spell

The Covid-19 pandemic has paralyzed everyone. Football will undoubtedly suffer and could even see some of its most recent changes reverted.

 

"Nothing will ever be the same again," Aleksander Ceferin, UEFA president said.

 

"Once the pandemic is over, it will be time to sit down and rethink today's football," Gianni Infantino, FIFA president added. "Football is the passion of the continent, but the health of the players, officials, partners and fans matter most at this point," Ahmad, CAF president emphasized.

 

These are the most authoritative voices in the world of football. Once the world's population can return to normal, everything will have changed. Finishing this season's competitions has become a matter of life and death for various leagues across the globe.

 

While the world suffers from the Covid-19 pandemic, football clubs' priority is survival, with an eventual return to reality for the 2020-2021 season.

 

With championships suspended and the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2021 qualifiers postponed, Africa is also suffering the full brunt of the virus, which is increasingly disturbing the world.

 

The Championship of African Nations (CHAN) 2020 scheduled to start in Cameroon in April was moved to a later date due to the coronavirus pandemic. In the same vein, the Executive Committee of the Cameroon Football Federation (popularly known as FECAFOOT) decided to suspend all competitions within the national territory.

 

Consequences

In recent weeks, sports organisations around the world have been forced to confront the reality that the coronavirus is likely to have a significant impact on the industry – not just in the short term, but also the long term. As the virus has spread, an increasing number of matches and events have been postponed or, more and more, cancelled outright.

 

At the time games were called off on Tuesday  March 17, 2020, there were 53 games left on the Cameroon Elite 1 regular-season schedule, and 19 games left on the Cameroon Elite 2 regular-season schedule — meaning 17.3 and 10.4 percent respectively of the regular season could be lost, if the league doesn’t complete the season.

 

Cameroon Elite 1 League Placings 53 Play Days to the End

 

For the good of its players and fans, FECAFOOT had no choice but to suspend play. But like every other sport disrupted by the pandemic, it could have major economic implications for the teams, players, and workers whose jobs are connected to the games. With all Cameroon sports in a similar stoppage, let’s use football as a case study to play out just how far-reaching those consequences could be.

 

FECAFOOT spends about 1 billion CFA F (about USD1.65 million) a year, most of which goes to organizing the male Elite 1 and Elite 2 competitions, the female Elite competition, the Cameroon Cup, the recent junior tournament and stadium preparation. Unpacking each of those areas reveals how much the Covid-19 crisis could affect the business of football.

 

Most obviously, gate revenue will be missed regardless of whether games were canceled or simply played in empty arenas. Tickets are not the largest source of income for the league. However, this is the season that sports fans may get acquainted with the legal term “force majeure.” And beyond the potential short-term effect on player salaries, the league’s lost income will have an ongoing effect on the players’ salaries.

 

Every corner of the economy will or has already begun to feel the strain of Covid-19, so in that sense, sports is no different from any other industry facing this crisis. But for sports, it has also played out on a very public stage, with leagues trying to balance safety against the likelihood of losing astronomical amounts of money — often dragging their feet and seeming to put the latter over the former. For the sake of public health, though, the cancelations were necessary — and they will also have wide-ranging effects on the business and competitive landscape of sports that could ripple out for years.

 

possible scenario & PWD Bamenda’s Pandemic Crowning

 

PWD Football Club of Bamenda

 

Scheduling and venue congestion will become an issue, as will the impact on the start of next season’s competitions. Cancellation would be ground zero for many, as there would be all manner of ramifications: In essence, competitions will have to be designed and implemented from scratch in a matter of days and weeks in order to draw this season’s competitions to a close.

 

Options for ending seasons early are already being considered, ranging from special play-off games to the use of current points scores or league positions as the basis for identifying winners and losers, and those who are or aren’t promoted.

 

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) demanded national federations (in this case, FECAFOOT) to forward their plans on the future of their championships for this season by May 5, 2020. Even without the coronavirus pandemic, national federations had up to July 30, 2020 to submit their continental representatives to CAF. With the COVID-19 pandemic, it is possible that national federations will demand for an extension of the CAF deadline.

 

FACFOOT has all the same taken an unprecedented decision to end the season for the Elite 1 league with as many as 53 play days left to go. The decision arrived Tuesday May 12 after a heated meeting gives PWD of Bamenda the crown. The mythical squad with stronghold in the once independent territory of Southern Cameroon, becomes the first ever soccer outfit west of the River Moungo to secure the crown in 58 years.

 

When the teams walked away from the fields of play in March, PWD of Bamenda was ahead of the Elite 1 league with 47 points, closely followed by Coton Sport of Maroua with 46 points. In the Elite 2 league, Astres of Douala was ahead while Louvres Minproff held the better end in the women’s league. The coronavirus pandemic thus offered crowns to these three teams on a platter of gold.

 

The protection of public health is of paramount importance, and should be, but sports authorities are also acutely aware of the significant costs that are likely to be incurred by any major disruption to this year’s sporting calendar. Indeed, some of the tensest sport battles this year are likely to be staged not in pitches, but in courtrooms across the world. The FECAFOOT example demonstrates the direction that is likely to embraced by some federations still wondering what way to go.