The Federal Government says it will take at least a month for Nigeria Professional Football League action to resume.
Following the outbreak of the coronavirus, the Nigerian top flight was suspended on March 18.
However, in recent weeks there have been indications football action would return in the country this month, with the the Nigeria Football Federation and other stakeholders making a number of proposals.
But after yesterday’s media briefing held by Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, it now appears football action will not return until at least the end of July.
Responding to calls for the NPFL to restart, Mustapha said: “Well, like the Premier League and the rest [where football action has returned in empty stadiums], I am not sure we’re excited about opening up for sporting activities [but behind closed doors], knowing fully well that sporting activities in our country — particularly the game of soccer — attracts large crowds.
“If our guideline says that large gatherings are bad, and not to exceed 20 people except for places of work, I don’t see the excitement that would be achieved if we allow sporting activities — particularly soccer, like the Nigeria Professional Football League — to resume in an empty stadium.
He further explained that the NPFL, unlike the European top flights, is not a “big businesses”, and so there’s no point getting it back when conditions in country are not entirely safe.
“A lot of european countries — where these games are big businesses — have started looking at the prospect of returning to the pitches, but they’re doing it in a deliberate way and a very, very slow-pace manner. And most countries are saying that when they finally resume, it would be teams playing in empty stadiums.
“We’ll get there too, but for now we’re concerned with the few activities that we’re allowed to resume. And we’ve given ourselves one month within which to do thorough assessment [of the Covid-19 incidence] and see how we fare.”
As of June 11, there have been 14,554 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections in the country.
Out of this, 387 patients have reportedly died, while 4494 have recovered.
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