Football viewing centres open in Nigeria against FG directive ‌

The football viewing centers across the country have started opening, which against the Federal Government directives amid COVID-19

It was business as usual for operators of football viewing centres in some parts of the country, as they entertained customers during Wednesday’s English Premier League games, in defiance to the directive of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, which placed a ban on viewing centres operating in the country.

The EPL, which has a large following in Nigeria, returned to action on Wednesday after it was suspended on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The league’s return came as a respite to hitherto aggrieved fans, most of who belonged to the lower class and patronise viewing centres for European football.

Some owners of viewing centres in Lagos, Ogun, Ondo and Ekiti states, who spoke to our correspondent last week, expressed delight at the return of the EPL.

They also revealed their plans to maintain social distancing among viewers during the live games.

But a statement by the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, warning against the re-opening of football viewing centres, dashed the hopes of the operators who have been counting their losses since the global ban on sporting activities.

“We have received reports that some states are contemplating the reopening of schools, television viewing centres, sports stadiums and other places where large gatherings could take place,” Mustapha stated at the PTF’s press briefing on Monday.

“The PTF re-emphasises that it is not yet safe to do so and that utmost caution should be exercised. The PTF guidelines should still be complied with while considering decision of this nature.”

Stock market ends four-day decline, gains N22bn
But checks by our correspondent showed that several viewing centres opened on Wednesday, with fans trooping in to watch the EPL matches involving Aston Villa versus Sheffield United and Manchester City versus Arsenal.

According to Punch, Several of the centres monitored showed that the fans didn’t wear facemasks and failed to observe social distancing. Also, there were no sanitary facilities on ground for usage.

A viewing centre operator in Akure, Ondo State, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, admitted he showed the game.

“Fans still came out to watch, so I didn’t have a choice but to show both games,” he said.

However, checks by The PUNCH showed that some of the operators complied with the FG’s directive.

It was also gathered that in areas where viewing centres failed to open, fans trooped to bars to watch the games.

No comments

After Dropping your comment, Wait for few minutes, your comments will appear below!!!