Ghana’s special advisor on health at the presidency Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare hints fans could only be allowed back in stadiums for football games when a vaccine is found for the coronavirus disease.
The pandemic has disrupted many events worldwide, forcing the world’s major football leagues into a temporary halt or permanent cancellation, and the medical expert is concerned about the impact that significant crowds – such as those attracted by Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak – could have given the current context.
Ghana has been no exception, as the disease, also known as Covid-19, has resulted in premature termination of the domestic football season including the Premier League (GPL).
“[The] government have much interest in football,” Dr. Nsiah-Asare told Kumasi FM. “Everything we do as government is in phases, reason we have allowed for national teams to train for now.
“We are in talks with the Ministry Of Youth and Sports and the GFA [Ghana Football Association] on the resumption of the league. The government wants every sector of the economy to function normally. We do not want to rush in doing things, reason why we are doing it in phases.
“President Akuffo Addo has football at heart, he is a football person and wants to see its return but not in a manner that will resurrect other problems.
“Football is a contact game, we will conclude everything with the GFA, MOYS [Ministry of Youth and Sports], NSA [National Sports Authority] and government will give the needed update in his next address.”
Ghana has currently banned all contact sports as part of measures to curb spread of the coronavirus disease.
However, the national female U20 side and the national male and female U17 teams have been granted special permission to regroup for training ahead of upcoming international assignments.
The standing ban on football casts a doubt over prompt possible return of domestic football due to safety concerns, but there have been calls for the West African nation to consider playing matches behind closed doors.
“In Europe, games are played behind closed doors. We cannot allow for supporters to go to the stadium and watch games just because that is where the clubs derive their funding,” Nsiah-Asare added. “Churches are filled with not more than 3,000 people, but Kotoko and Hearts games will attract more than 30,000 people so I will plead with football loving fans to exercise patience.
“If a vaccine is found, the government will allow for supporters to go to the stadium.”
Ghana’s 2019-20 domestic football season was permanently cancelled in June following three months of a standstill due to Covid-19.