By Jongile Xuba | 2020-11-22
Soccer - The Eswatini Football Association (EFA) could face the wrath of the ministry of sports, culture and youth affairs should they fail to get their two-year ban appeal granted by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
This was revealed by Minister of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs Harries ‘Madze’ Bulunga following the shocking news of the under-17 national team’s disqualification from the ongoing COSAFA competition alongside Zimbabwe, Comoros and Botswana which were disqualified for age cheating.
The minister said he had summoned the EFA to his office to get answers as to what had happened and how they would proceed moving forward.
“The ministry, like the rest of the nation, has learnt with great disappointment of the disqualification of the national U-17 team from the ongoing COSAFA U-17 Championship due to failing an age eligibility test. The ministry takes this moment to apologise to all Emaswati for the huge embarrassment that this matter has brought the country.”
“The EFA informed us of their intention to appeal this verdict with CAF and the ministry has therefore taken a decision that it will wait for the finalisation of this appeal before taking any further action. In the instance that CAF upholds the standing decision, the ministry, as per policy, will take the EFA to the Eswatini Sport and Recreation Council (ESRC) Tribunal for bringing the sport into disrepute,” he said.
He added that the ministry strongly condemns any form of cheating in sport and will stop at nothing to ensure that all who are involved in such in its entirety are removed from our sport.
“The ministry further appeals for patience from the nation as the national U-17s matters are handled within the relevant structures.
The ministry will swiftly ensure that, if the guilty verdict is upheld, those responsible are brought to book as per existing sporting policies,” he said.
Minister Bulunga also touched on another issue of the women’s national team Sitsebe where players tested positive.
He said this had prompted them to come with a new policy to ensure the safety of all players.
“The ministry has discovered grey areas that need strengthening, in particular with regards to the aftermath of international games following the return of Sitsebe from the COSAFA Women’s Championships held in South Africa.
“While the EFA followed all laid down protocols and all retuning squad members had negative COVID-19 certificates upon return to Eswatini, a subsequent quarantine and another test on arrival were not conducted. This is a critical condition that was not clearly stated within the football reopening protocols.
“As a measure to strengthen the already existing sporting COVID-19 protocols, the ministry wishes to announce that all returning sporting squad members will have to quarantine together, be tested and receive results before they can be released back to their individual places of abode. Under no circumstances will any returning squad member be allowed to skip these critical steps,” he said.
The ministry acknowledges that both these matters are extremely sensitive and erode the Nation’s confidence in sporting structures, the minister closed.
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