Many clubs will collapse due to coronavirus, warns George Weah

Thursday, May 28th, 2020 00:00 |
former World Footballer Of The Year George Weah.

Harare, Wednesday

The future of African sport after coronavirus is “bleak” and there is no guarantee it will recover, Liberian president and former World Footballer Of The Year George Weah has warned.

Sport across the continent has been suspended - as in most places around the world - due to the pandemic.

But in countries where it is restarting, it is doing so behind closed doors or with minimal crowds.

And Weah told a special conference for Africa Sports Ventures Group that this, coupled with a likely large drop-off in sponsorship as companies reduce spending in the wake of coronavirus-inflicted losses, poses a huge threat not just to individual sporting clubs right across the continent, but also the very league structures in which they exist.

“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,” said President Weah.

“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 online event, in collaboration with Unesco, featured presentations from experts, athletes, administrators, marketers and government officials aimed at dealing with the aftermath of coronavirus.

Traditional sports

Some of the suggestions worked on included a stronger digital presence, new partnerships in social development, the inclusion of some of Africa’s traditional sports in the mainstream, staging more events on the continent.

As internet use has risen in countries in lockdown around the world, it was argued that African sport, and football in particular, has yet to exploit the digital world.

African sports media consultant Gary Rathbone, recently appointed as head of sport at the South African Broadcasting Corporation, said he believes that social media can bring clubs much-needed income to clubs as they try and get back into playing again. -BBC

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