Tanzania’s Premier League resumes after suspension due to COVID-19

Tanzania’s Vodacom Premier League resumed on Saturday after a three-month suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic. COURTESY: TWITTER/Tanzanian Football Federation

Tanzania became the first African country to resume a national league following its suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March, Tanzania’s Vodacom Premier League and other lower leagues were suspended, initially for at least one month, shortly after Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa announced the suspension of all sporting activities as part of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.

On Saturday, Coastal Union and Namungo played out a 2-2 draw while Young Africans edged out Mwadui 1-0. On Sunday, Simba SC drew 1-1 at home against Ruvu Shooting and Azam defeated Mbao 2-0.

While fans were allowed to attend the matches, elderly persons and children were prohibited. Fans also had to wear face masks, use hand sanitizers or wash their hands. In addition to having their temperatures taken before entering the stadiums, fans had to observe social distancing once inside the grounds.

Images shared online by the Tanzanian Football Federation showed fans in a stadium in Shinyanga wearing face masks and observing the social distancing rule while seated in the terraces.

Simba SC leads the 20-team league with 72 points from 29 matches, 15 points ahead of second-placed Azam while Young Africans are a further three points behind with a game in hand. Alliance (29 games 29 points), Mbao (30 games, 23 points) and Singida United (29 games, 15 points) occupy the bottom three positions respectively.

Several African countries have cancelled their domestic football leagues due to the pandemic, including Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, DR Congo, Kenya, Mauritius, Niger, South Sudan and Uganda in ending their domestic football seasons early due to COVID-19.

Burundi was the only African country to continue with its football season despite the threat of the pandemic.