• The future of sports in Africa after Covid-19 is bleak – Liberia president Weah

    Geroge Weah

    Liberia president George Weah has made a bold claim regarding the future of sport, including football, in Africa after the coronavirus pandemic.

    The health crisis has put a countless number of sporting events on hold while some football leagues have been abruptly concluded and others are awaiting government approval to properly end their respective tournaments.

    Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Gambia are some African countries who have cancelled their leagues without completing the games in a season.

    Among the continental tournaments on suspension is the 2020 African Nations Championship, which was initially scheduled to take place in April in Cameroon.

    President Weah is aware of the economic challenge coronavirus has brought to the world at large, and he fears clubs will collapse while many leagues won’t be unable to kick on again.

    He also called for global funding to support the sports industry during these uncertain times.

    “The lifeblood of sports consists mainly of attendance fees and sponsorships – where these no longer exist, many clubs will collapse and many leagues will close permanently,” president Weah was quoted as saying by BBC Sport.

    “It is my considered opinion that the future of sports in Africa after Covid-19 is bleak, and is not guaranteed to recover. There will be an urgent need to resuscitate football and other games.

    “Health and recovery of our economies take absolute priority, however, it is important that the global funding being raised should recognise the social importance of sport.”

    The 53-year-old enjoyed a successful playing career as a footballer with stints at Monaco, PSG, AC Milan, Chelsea, Manchester City and Marseille before turning to politics.

    Weah won the African Footballer of the Year award thrice – 1989, 1994 and 1995, and he remains the only African player to have won the Ballon d’Or, in 1995.

    Meanwhile, former Nigeria star Segun Odegbami sees the present health challenge as an opportunity for Africa to reconsider its approach to sports which he described as multi-billion dollar business for the continent.

    “Sport is a 700-billion dollar business, and we haven’t scratched the surface of the business of football in Africa,” Odegbami said.

    “Covid-19 gives us a chance to rethink.”

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