Fiji FA hopes to complete football season

Fiji Football association President Rajesh Patel (left) with Digicel Fiji Chief Executive Officer Farid Mohammed holds the new look national Football Team jersey during the opening of the Digicel Premier League competition at Churchill Park in Lautoka. Picture: REINAL CHAND/FT FILE

The Fiji Football Association is confident of completing its 2021 season before the end of the year with the inclusion of all the three major tournaments.

Football, like all sports, has been affected because of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The major tournaments such as the Digicel Fiji FACT have been put on hold together with the various Digicel sponsored men’s, women’s and age group league competitions which commenced in April.

In March this year, digital operator, Digicel signed a three-year sponsorship deal with Fiji FA worth $2.85 million to become the parent body’s official sponsor.

With the prolonged sporting restrictions and lockdowns, the Punjas Battle of the Giants and the Courts Inter District Championship are likely to be rescheduled.

Fiji FA president Rajesh Patel said they were able to complete the season last year despite the pandemic.

Patel said the major tournaments would be played since they had sponsors.

He said following their survey to identify players dependent solely on football for income, it was revealed that there was a vast majority in the country.

“Last year we finished the competition by the end of the year but we have a plan B in place if things don’t go well,” Patel said.

“Football will resume once the clearance is given by the government and the relevant authorities.

“The tournaments will be played since we have the sponsors. The various league competitions will resume. Matches in the league competition will be played mid-week and on the weekends.

“Looking at the recent survey it highlights how many players are employed and how many are not. We are assisting those who rely on football for earnings by distributing food rations. So these players will be available to play the mid-week fixtures since football is their livelihood.”

Patel said they were ready to follow all protocols of a COVID-19 sporting safe environment during its competitions.

(*This story which was published in the Fiji Times on Thursday, June 17, 2021, incorrectly named the Digicel Fiji FACT. We regret any inconvenience this may have caused.)

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