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Weah forecasts grim future for African sports post-COVID-192 minutes read

Liberian president and former African and World Footballer of The Year warns of struggle in sports post Covid-19

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Liberian president and former African and World Footballer of The Year George Weah has warned that the future of sports on the African continent after the coronavirus will be “bleak”.

Speaking at a recent special webinar organized by the Africa Sports Ventures Group, Weah said that the organizing of sports events or competitions behind closed doors or with minimal crowds will result in a major reduction in sponsorship revenues as companies reduce spending in the wake of coronavirus-inflicted losses.

In his opinion, this poses a huge threat not just to individual sporting clubs across the continent, but also to the league structures within 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.”

However, head of sport at the South African Broadcasting Corporation, Gary Rathbone believes that social media can bring clubs much-needed income as they try and get back into playing again.

“There’s an opportunity for many leagues and many sports federations to start engaging with their consumers via the digital space,” said Rathbone.

“In many American sports, big international leagues, Formula One, consumers can subscribe directly to content without paying for a TV subscription, and there’s an opportunity here on the continent now if federations can start doing that.

“There are around 300 million people with smartphones across sub-Saharan Africa. If you look at big football clubs in Africa so many of them are not exploiting the digital space on social media. It’s a huge opportunity to monetise the content that they have with advertisers or subscription fees.

“If a club has a million fans and say a quarter of them subscribe for just 50 cents a month, that’s $125,000 a month – much greater than any broadcast TV revenue that they might have got,” he concluded.

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

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

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Mane and Salah win Premier League title with Liverpool

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African stars Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah have helped English club Liverpool end their 30-year wait for a league title after being crowned English Premier League champions on Thursday night.

Manchester City’s 2-1 loss at Chelsea ensured the Reds now have an unassailable 23-point lead with seven matches remaining in the season. Goals from Christian Pulisic and Willian either side of a Kevin De Bruyne freekick saw rapturous celebrations from Liverpool fans all over the world.

Jurgen Klopp had earlier led his Liverpool side to a comprehensive 4-0 win over Crystal Palace 4-0 on Wednesday evening to leave them on the brink of winning the title.

“I have no words. It’s unbelievable,” Klopp said in an interview after the Chelsea win. “It’s much more than I ever thought, to become champions with this outstanding club is unbelievable.”

“It’s an incredible achievement for my players, It’s the best thing I could ever imagine and it’s more than I ever dreamed of,” he said.

Liverpool’s principal owner, John W. Henry, paid tribute to the team’s “magnificent achievement” on social media.

“‘This was a season for the ages and for the faithful of Liverpool Football Club,” Henry, who is head of Fenway Sports Group, tweeted.

“‘It has been an incredible year of magnificent achievement culminating tonight in capturing the Premier League title.

“‘This in addition to winning a European championship, a Super Cup and a world championship — the totality of this accomplishment has brought respite and joy to so many in a year filled with so much tragedy.

“‘LFC has made the beautiful game more beautiful than ever.

“It is said, ‘We are Liverpool’. You, the supporters are Liverpool in every sense and you continue to drive the club forward — a historic club making history once again.”

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Nominees released for 2019/2020 Marc Vivien Foe Award

French media outlets RFI and France 24 have released the 11 nominees for the 2019/2020 Marc-Vivien Foe Award

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French media outlets RFI and France 24 have released the 11 nominees for the Marc-Vivien Foe Award. The annual event is organized in memory of the late Marc-Vivien Foe, a Cameroonian midfielder who died at the age of 28 while playing for the Indomitable Lions during a 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup match against Colombia.

He had two stints in the French Ligue 1, first turning out for Lens before playing for Olympique Lyon after a short time in England with West Ham United.

Ivorian Nicolas Pépé was the winner of the 2019 edition after a stunning, 22-goal season with Lille who finished as runners up behind Paris St. Germain. Nominees must be eligible to wear the colors of an African national team and must have played at least 15 matches in Ligue 1 in the season under consideration.

The list is dominated by players from Senegal, with no less than four from the runners up at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt. They include PSG’s defensive midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye, Stade Rennes goalkeeper Edouard Mendy who kept nine clean sheets and saved a penalty from 24 Ligue 1 games, teammate Mbaye Niang who scored 15 goals in 36 games in all competitions and FC Metz’ Habibou Diallo who scored 12 goals.

Nigerian duo Victor Osimhen and Moses Simon will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Vincent Enyeama, who won the award in 2014. Osimhen had a dream debut campaign in France with Lille, scoring 18 goals in 38 games across all competitions, 13 of them in 27 league games. Simon, who was on loan from Levante had a solid campaign as well, scoring nine goals and providing eight assists from 30 games with Nantes.

African champions Algeria are also represented. Striker Islam Slimani scored nine goals in 19 games across all competitions for Monaco while compatriot Andy Delort also scored nine goals for Montpellier. Both players are hoping to become the first Algerians to win the award.

Gabon and Saint Etienne’s Bouanga Denis, Malian Hamari Toure of Rennes and Morocco’s Younis Abdelhamid of Reims complete the shortlist.

The winner will be announced on or before June 29 2020.

The full list:

Andy Delort (Algeria) Montpellier
Islam Slimani (Algeria) Monaco
Edouard Mendy (Senegal) Rennes
Idrissa Gana Gueye (Senegal) PSG
Habib Diallo (Senegal) FC Metz
Mbaye Niang (Senegal) Rennes
Moses Simon (Nigeria) FCNantes
Victor Osimhen (Nigeria) LOSC
Younis Abdelhamid (Morocco) Reims
Hamari Traoré (Mali) Rennes
Denis Bouanga (Gabon) ASSE

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Egyptian league to wait on government

The President of the Egyptian Football Association reveals that the return of sports in the country is solely dependent on the government

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The President of the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) Amr El-Gainany has said the return of sports in the country is solely dependent on the government.

All Sporting activities in Egypt have been suspended since 14 March due to the coronavirus pandemic that has hit the world. In Egypt, the number of Covid-19 cases continue to rise, as they are getting close to the 20,000-case mark.

The Egyptian FA president says they are prepared for any scenario as he revealed that the future of Egyptian sports is dependent on the decisions of the government.

“We haven’t taken a final decision regarding the future of sports competitions in Egypt,” said El-Ganainy.

“This decision will be made by the government but until now it wasn’t taken.

“We’re fully prepared if the government decides to continue the league”

“Even if the league is cancelled, we’ll be ready and we prepared several scenarios. We all want to continue the league unless the situation doesn’t allow it.

“In case we continue the league, the games won’t be played on the same pitches or the cities, as we want to limit the movement of the players,” he added.

El-Ganainy also gave an update on the health of the EFA’s technical director Mahmoud Saad who contracted the coronavirus after a meeting with some expatriate Egyptian coaches.

“There are no cases within the EFA, we took all of the precautions and we hope that Mahmoud Saad recovers quickly.

“Mahmoud Saad’s situation is improving every day. I want to thank him for his efforts over the previous year’s especially regarding dealing with athletes returning from abroad. He made a lot of efforts which exhausted him,” he concluded.

The former Zamalek coach will undergo the medical protocol cited by the Egyptian Ministry of Health and will take all the official cautions and measurements to face the virus.

The precautionary measures given by the government have been taken inside the EFA’s headquarters since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the EFA’s Chief Executive Walid El-Attar.

The Egyptian Sports Minister Ashraf Sobhi said recently that football clubs will resume training in June.

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