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Coronavirus chaos could offer women football a silver lining

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TERESA CALLEB

By TERESA CALLEB
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In recent weeks, the world of sport has been brought to a standstill due to coronavirus pandemic.

Staying indoors and unable to take part in daily routines has turned out to be an uphill task given that majority of the Kenyan population depends on daily income with little or no savings to survive.

The situation is worse for the Kenyan women football fraternity where players do not have salaries but rather rely on match day allowances and bonuses that are currently unavailable as the league, just like everywhere else in the world, has been halted to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

However, the halting of the women’s league over the coronavirus may not be all bad news for stakeholders. It has given them time to go back to the drawing board and reflect, re-think, re-strategise and set objectives that will act as catalysts that will perpetuate solutions to the numerous problems that have been ailing the game.

This break should also remind us that women footballers are equal beings who should be treated with respect, regardless of the gender stereotypes that over the years, have branded them as less attractive to funding and endorsements for their inability to match their male counterparts in terms of pulling crowds.

This has been escalated with the disparity when it comes to remuneration both at club and national teams level. Covid-19 has shown all of us are equal irrespective of our cultural beliefs, financial status or even gender roles.

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However, women footballers also have a role to play. I’m not saying that this will be achieved overnight, but the teams and players must build proper brands to attract funding and visibility within the football industry. The ultimate goal of a carefully managed branding and communication strategy is growth of value. As we pray for the world for a quick end to this tragedy, the lessons we gather should serve as a reminder that we can re-build the game together.

A stormy debate recently erupted on the role of the Kenya Footballer’s Welfare Association (Kefwa) in fighting for the players’ rights. A number of issues starting from election of a new office that have not been held by the organisation as they await to comply with the Sports Act. Leadership wrangles with some officials claiming that they have been sidelined and adopting of a new constitution are some of the major issues took that centre-stage.

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Interestingly, very few people mentioned the milestones Kefwa have made starting from the activities they have carried out during the period, which have propelled the organisation from being Fifpro observers to full members.

Is Kefwa doing enough for women football? The players’ union is working on various initiatives such as the Women Premier League (WPL) monthly awards, Menstrual Health Hygiene (MHM) education as well as the distribution of sanitary towels in partnership with the Johanna Omolo Foundation to the women football clubs, both in the WPL and the Division One leagues.

Notably, Kefwa also entered into a partnership with Zetech University and Mount Kenya Hub in order to ensure that players are offered scholarships to further their education, as well as accelerate their businesses through economic empowerment and livelihood sessions just to mention a few.

Kefwa, just like every other public organisation out there, has its faults. But the strides made by the association in the last few years have been commendable. The stakeholders should appreciate and look out for each other and come up with solutions for the betterment of the game.

Fifa’s Disciplinary Committee directives

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) were earlier this week instructed to pay former Harambee Stars coach Adel Amrouche Sh109 million, in compensation for wrongful dismissal within 30 days or risk facing disciplinary measures from world football governing body, Fifa. FKF have further been fined an extra Sh4 million to cater for costs sustained during the arbitration process.

Bearing in mind the progress the country has made at international level, avoiding Fifa sanctions should top the federation’s priorities at the moment.

A ban from Fifa-organised competitions would be retrogressive. Amrouche’s case should also serve as a lesson that dialogue without necessarily having to settle matters along the corridors of power, can save us time, money and energy.

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Wimbledon cancelled for first time since WWII

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Coco Gauff celebrates beating Venus Williams in the first round of Wimbledon 2019

London, United Kingdom, Apr 1 – Wimbledon
organisers on Wednesday scrapped the grasscourt Grand Slam for the first time
since World War II as the coronavirus wreaks further havoc on the global
sporting calendar.

The cancellation of the only grasscourt
major at the All England Club leaves the season in disarray, with no tennis due
to be played until mid-July.

“Devastated,” tweeted eight-time
champion Roger Federer.

Wimbledon was due to run for two weeks from
June 29, with Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep set to defend their singles
titles.

But tournament chiefs bowed to the
inevitable on Wednesday, saying in a statement that they had made the decision
with “great regret”.

All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said
the decision had not been taken lightly.

“It has weighed heavily on our minds
that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by
world wars,” he said.

“But, following thorough and extensive
consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global
crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year’s
Championships.”

Halep tweeted her disappointment.

“So sad to hear @Wimbledon won’t take
place this year,” she said. “Last year’s final will forever be one of
the happiest days of my life! But we are going through something bigger than
tennis and Wimbledon will be back! And it means I have even longer to look
forward to defending my title.”

The decision to scrap the tournament was
widely expected, with the world struggling to contain the spread of COVID-19,
which has infected more than 840,000 people worldwide and killed over 40,000.

It also prompted the ATP and WTA to cancel
the grasscourt swing in the build-up to Wimbledon, meaning the tennis season
will not now recommence until July 13 at the earliest.

Organisers had earlier ruled out playing
the Grand Slam behind closed doors and postponing the event would also create
its own problems.

– Becker plea –

Boris Becker enjoyed a successful spell from 2014 until 2016 as coach of former world number one Novak Djokovic, during which the Serbian won six Grand Slam titles

Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker on Tuesday pleaded for tournament chiefs to wait longer before making a decision.

“I really hope Wimbledon will wait
until the end of April for decision!” he tweeted. “The tourney is
first week of July… patience is a virtue.”

But former women’s world number one Amelie
Mauresmo, the 2006 women’s champion, said the 2020 season would probably need
to be scrapped.

The cancellation of Wimbledon could mean
multiple champions Federer, Serena Williams and Venus Williams have played at
the All England Club for the final time.

Federer and Serena will be nearly 40 by the
time of the 2021 championships and Venus will be 41.

Serena, beaten in last year’s final by
Halep, is stuck on 23 Grand Slam singles titles — agonisingly one away from
equalling Margaret Court’s record.

The French Tennis Federation provoked
widespread anger with its unilateral decision to move the French Open from its
original May 24 start date to begin on September 20.

That puts the start only one week after the
planned date of the US Open men’s final.

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UEFA postpone all June international matches

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UEFA have postponed international matches scheduled for June following a new meeting on Wednesday about the coronavirus crisis © AFP/File / Fabrice COFFRINI

PARIS, France, Apr 1UEFA have made a move towards clearing the decks for the return of club football by announcing on Wednesday that all international matches that had been pushed back to June have now been postponed until further notice.

“This includes the play-off matches for UEFA Euro 2020 and qualifying matches for UEFA Women’s Euro 2021,” said European football’s governing body in a statement.

“All other UEFA competition matches, including the centralised international friendly matches, remain postponed until further notice.”

The decision followed a videoconference with Europe’s 55 member federations as part of discussions on how to adapt the fixture calendar in the face of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The play-off semi-finals and finals that are supposed to decide the last four qualifying berths for the next European Championship were initially postponed at the end of March and pencilled in provisionally for June.

That was “subject to a review of the situation” amid uncertainty over how the pandemic will develop and whether many European countries currently in lockdown will be able to return to some kind of normality.

Friendly matches that will not now go ahead as a result of the decision include England’s matches in Austria and at home to Romania in early June.

However, UEFA have also stated a determination to finish all domestic and club competitions by June 30.

While that currently looks ambitious at the very least, clearing the international fixtures from the same month does buy some more time as they aim to complete the Champions League and Europa League competitions as well as domestic leagues.

Carrying the season on beyond that date runs the risk of clubs losing their out-of-contract players before matches have been completed, unless a solution can be found.

“There is a very strong case to be made that it should be in everybody’s interests to as much as possible extend those,” said Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, the general secretary of global players’ union FIFPro, when asked about the issue of expiring player contracts in a conference call on Tuesday.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin told Italian daily La Repubblica at the weekend that football “could start again in mid-May, in June or even late June” but that any time after that and “the season will probably be lost.”

The impact of the pandemic on Europe has already forced UEFA to put Euro 2020 back 12 months, while the women’s Euro 2021 has also been postponed.

On Wednesday UEFA said that the men’s and women’s Under-17 and Under-19 European Championships, scheduled for May and July respectively, were postponed until further notice.

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rn Wimbledon cancelled for first time since WWIIrn

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Wimbledon cancelled for first time since WWII

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UEFA postpone all June international matches

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New Zealand Rugby slash pay as sport reels from virus

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Secrecy and suspense over Tour de France’s fate

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Could coronavirus kill off German football fan power?

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Solskjaer in touch with Man Utd stars during virus lockdown

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Summon spirit of 2006 to beat COVID-19- Cannavaro to Italy

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Howe first Premier League boss to take pay cut over virus

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AFP

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Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe became the first Premier League manager to take a voluntary pay cut due to the coronavirus on Wednesday.

Cherries boss Howe, 42, agreed to take a “significant” cut to his reported £4 million-per-year ($4.9 million) contract to help offset the financial damage caused by the pandemic.

The League Managers Association, the Professional Footballers Association, the Premier League and the Football League are in talks with a view to reaching a united agreement over pay reductions for players and managers.

But Howe, chief executive Neill Blake, first team technical director Richard Hughes and assistant boss Jason Tindall have rubber stamped significant pay cuts for the period of time football is delayed by the health crisis.

The Premier League has been postponed until at least April 30 and, with the pandemic spread yet to be solved, it appears the top-flight season will be pushed back again when the English game’s major stakeholders meet on Friday.

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“As the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic continues to gather pace, there are far more questions than answers regarding its effects,” a Bournemouth statement read.

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“There is no script for moments like this. But as a board we are continually looking at ways to ensure the future of the club and our employees are protected when the season returns.

“With that in mind, chief executive Neill Blake, first team technical director Richard Hughes, manager Eddie Howe and assistant manager Jason Tindall have all taken significant, voluntary pay cuts for the entirety of this uncertain time.”

Bournemouth have also followed in the footsteps of fellow Premier League clubs Tottenham, Newcastle and Norwich by furloughing a number of non-playing staff.

“These measures have been taken to safeguard the financial stability of the club during what is such an uncertain period, not only in football but for businesses in all industries across the world,” the statement said.

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