1995 Ballon d’Or winner president Weah fears African sports will collapse after COVID-19

  • The only African player to have won the Ballon d’Or, 1995, President George Weah of Liberia, has made a bold claim that the Africa sports future after the coronavirus pandemic is ‘bleak’.

The health crisis has forced leagues across the continent suspended indefinitely with some football leagues being concluded abruptly.

Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and the Gambia are some African countries that have canceled their leagues without completing the games in a season.

Chan 2020 and the 2020 African Nations Championship are among the continental tournaments on suspension.

President Weah acknowledges the economic challenge coronavirus has brought to the world at large and fears clubs will collapse, while many leagues won’t be unable to kick on again. He also called for global funding to support the sports industry during these uncertain times.

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“The lifeblood of sports consists mainly of attendance fees and sponsorships – where these no longer exist, many clubs will collapse and many leagues will close permanently,” President Weah said.

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“It is my considered opinion that the future of sports in Africa after Covid-19 is bleak, and is not guaranteed to recover. There will be an urgent need to resuscitate football and other games,” he opined.

“Health and recovery of our economies take absolute priority; however, it is important that the global funding being raised should recognize the social importance of sport,” he concluded.

Weah, 53-year-old had quite a successful football career before delving into politics. He won the African Footballer of the Year award thrice – 1989, 1994, and 1995. He also enjoyed stint spells in Europe with Monaco, PSG, AC Milan, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Marseille.

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On the other hand, former Nigeria star Segun Odegbami has a different opinion on the current health crisis. He sees the present health challenge as an opportunity for Africa to reconsider its approach to sports which he described as a multi-billion dollar business for the continent.

“Sport is a 700-billion dollar business, and we haven’t scratched the surface of the business of football in Africa,” Odegbami stated.

He posed, “Covid-19 gives us a chance to rethink.”

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