Football Returns Without Fans As FG Lifts Ban

The door has been opened for the return of professional football in Nigeria after the federal government lifted the ban on non-contact sports and gave the greenlight for the return of football activities.

Games will, however, be played behind closed doors without fans and in line with COVID-19 guidelines under the supervision of the Sports Ministry and the National Centre for Disease Control, NCDC.

The directive was announced on Thursday by the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu in Abuja.

“Restriction is removed on outdoor communal (non-contact) sports and use of recreational parks for supervised physical exercise; and sporting leagues to resume with no fans in stadiums and with necessary NPIs to be directed by the Federal Ministry of Sports and Youth Development and the NCDC,” Dr Aliyu said.

The pronouncement paves the way for the long-sought after return for professional football which has been on hiatus for six months because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Nigeria Football Federation has set a tentative October kick off date for the 2020-21 season for all professional leagues subject to government approval.

With this approval, clubs can start training activities and embark on preseason activities in anticipation of the new season.

The upcoming season could see the return of live broadcast of the topflight Nigeria Professional Football League following a commercial deal with Redstrike Media Nigeria which will see live matches streamed every matchweek on the soon to be created platform.

The deal is expected to kick off in the new season.