Vandrezzer Football Club wishes to appreciate the Presidential Task Force, Ministry of Sports and Nigeria Football Federation for a successful return of league football in Nigeria under strict rules in compliance with the COVID-19 prevention regulations.
While the health of the nation remains top priority, we know however that the fans are the soul of football and without them, we are lacking a fundamental part of the sport. Football is not the same without fans, every player and coach misses the direct connection fans provide and the influence the (well behaved) supporters have on our games.
Parts of Africa, the United Kingdom and other European countries who are worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, have managed to return supporters back to stadiums. This is a big win for football and sports which unites communities, increases employment for our youths, provides livelihoods, boosts businesses, and the national economy.
The fact that schools, churches/mosques, major arts and social events have allowed people to gather, observing social and physical distancing and with all safety protocols observed, is a step forward. Football should now be allowed to do the same, but in highly regulated and supervised situations.
In the light of the above, we request the Federal Government of Nigeria in collaboration with the NFF and the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 to strongly consider the possibility of letting fans back into the stadiums to help clubs generate revenue and add colour to our football. Just as in other climes, we can start with a certain number of fans, then a gradual increase.
Football clubs can collaborate with epidemiologists, scientists, and medical professionals in fields such as public health, clinical processes, and occupational hygiene to ensure stadiums are COVID-safe by incorporating best-practice screening and hygiene measures to protect the safety of fans and the broader public, as well as accelerate Government's sporting goals.
Clubs would need to be proactive in this area and shoukd be open to adopting measures both in and out of the stadium that will alleviate any concerns about supporter safety.
Stadium environments can be tweaked and meticulously regulated. Screening fans before they enter the stadium, implementing temperature checks, mandating masks to be worn, one-way systems, and giving a code of conduct for all those attending a matchday are all possible measures. This will be supplemented by deep-cleaning methods to help lower the likelihood of virus transmission even further.
Furthermore, with the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, we believe the risk of contracting the virus in our stadia would be reduced.
We all understand why prudence is required, and we want the government to be consistent in their policies so that sport is treated as fairly as other activities that are already permitted to welcome spectators.
We want to thank the Federal government, NCDC and Lagos State government in particular for their pivotal roles in fighting the scourge in Nigeria, as we look forward to the consideration of allowing fans back into our stadia.