By Samuel Opio
The coronavirus outbreak has led to an almost complete shutdown of professional sports in the world.
The virus, Covid-19, having originated from Wuhan in China in December last year, continues to wreak havoc in the sporting world.
Football has been at the epicentre of this deadly virus that continues to destroy people irrespective of their race, colour, and creed or where they come from.
Domestic club football across much of Europe has been halted while UEFA postponed Champions League and Europa League games until further notice.
Despite footballers being incredibly fit athletes, they are susceptible to contracting Covid-19 like anyone else.
Bloggers and other websites have capitalised on the unfortunate happenings around the world to spread fake news by naming football stars that have not been infected by the virus to cause panic among fans and loved ones.
According to official numbers, there are currently 155,249 coronavirus cases in the world with 5,812 succumbing to the deadly virus. 74,262 have recovered from Covid-19.
In South America and Africa, where the pandemic is still in its infant stages, public events and sports activities, international fixtures and domestic leagues are being suspended – consequently affecting a number of Ugandan sports stars plying their trade across the globe.
Last Friday, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) decided to postpone the 2021 Nations Cup qualifiers (March 25-31), FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup Qualifiers (March 20-22) and Women’s Nations Cup qualifiers (April 8-14). This means that Cranes participation in international engagements will be restricted to the 2020 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) due in Cameroon that had yet to be suspended.
Democratic Republic of Congo became the first African country to suspend all football related activities –rendering Joseph Ochaya, who turns out for TP Mazembe inactive for about 30 days.
In North Africa – by far the hardest-hit region on the continent –the likes of Morocco and Algeria have decided to play their league games behind closed doors for now but with a huge possibility of cancelling if the numbers continue to grow.
Uganda’s Egypt-based professional players Khalid Aucho (Misr Lel Makkasa), Abdul Lumala (Pyramids), Emmanuel Okwi (Ittihad Alexandria),Tadeo Lwanga (Tanta), Derrick Nsibambi (Smouha) and Allan Kyambadde (El Gouna) will remain inactive for 15 days.
The number of confirmed cases in Egypt has risen to 80, the Ministry of Health added.
In Morocco, where stars Murushid Jjuuko (Wydad Casablanca), Patrick Henry Kaddu (RS Berkane), Nelson Senkatuka (Moghreb Tetouan) are fast-establishing themselves, all confirmed cases were responding positively to treatment, with one cured.
In Algeria, where Allan Okello turns out for Paradou AC, the virus continues to cause havoc. Algeria has now reported 20 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the second highest after Egypt which has 55 cases.
In South Africa, where Denis Onyango and Moses Waiswa play for Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport, leagues’ authorities have only suspended handshakes before matches.
In Israel, where 126 Israelis have so far tested positive for coronavirus, and thousands placed in isolation; Luwagga Kizito will remain inactive for the foreseeable future.
This will be the same fate for Chicago Fire star Mike Aziira, whose Major Soccer League (MLS), is under suspension for 30 days.
Farouk Miya on the other hand will remain active after Turkish authorities ignored public outcry and continued with games over the weekend. Turkey confirmed its sixth case on Saturday.
In Europe, authorities have taken extreme precautions with a host of leagues being completely suspended.
The decision by authorities in England, France and Germany to postpone top-flight football means that all Europe’s top leagues have ground to a halt. But so have Scotland and Israel where Bevis Mugabi and Luwagga Kizito are based.
Scottish Premier Football League (SPFL) chief executive Neil Doncaster said it was “neither realistic nor possible” to continue with matches.