Tanzania President John Pombe Magufuli has hinted at allowing the suspended football activities to resume even as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic.
The Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) suspended the Mainland Premier League, among other competitions, in mid-March when the government banned public gatherings.
During a national address, via the state-owned Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation television, Mafgufuli said he may allow the resumption of the league soon, although he is awaiting proper advice from his health professionals.
“Truth be said, in the coming days, I am also thinking of allowing the league to resume and go on so that people can start watching their teams playing. What we only need is the best procedures to be put in place and followed,” President Magufuli said.
“I understand, although people have been affected by corona, I am yet to see an athlete suffering from it. This shows that those who exercise regularly are not easily affected by the coronavirus.
“If we deny them [footballers] playing football, in essence, we are telling them to get coronavirus, by implications.
“It will reach a time soon, I am only waiting for my health advisors word, when I will allow the league to resume. Soon it is possible.
“Covid-19 is a disease that will remain with us same way as TB and even Aids and we must not stop our daily day activities!”
The head of state went on to urge the citizens not to panic and also stated he will not put the major towns, including Dar es Salaam, under total lockdown as some leaders have insistently asked him to do so.
Dar es Salaam hosts a number of clubs like Simba SC, Yanga SC, and Kinondoni Municipal Council FC.
The Kariakoo Derby, pitting long-time rivals Simba and Yanga against each other, is always held at either the National Stadium or at the Uhuru Stadium which are both located in the coastal city.
“I am telling Tanzanians not to panic at all as we are still at the elementary stage [of battling the Covid-19 pandemic]. Let us continue working so that wealth creation continues for the better,” explained the president.
“Let us not scare ourselves on this issue and the politician’s need to stop making it a political agenda as that is not going to help at all.
“People are telling me to lockdown Dar es Salaam and Tanga but I am saying ‘Not a day will I do that’. Tanzanians we must work as we also take necessary precautions.”
The league was suspended with Simba were leading with 71 points from 28 matches while Azam, Yanga and Namungo were second, third and fourth, respectively.
Record champions Yanga had played 27 matches.