COVID-19: As Premier League Returns, Soccer Fans, Operators Beg Gov Akeredolu To Lift Ban On Viewing Centres

Operators of football viewing centres in Ondo State have condemned a temporary ban on their business by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu.

The governor said the step was taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

This decision has dashed the hopes of soccer fans and operators of viewing centres who live on the business in the state as the English Premier League resumes June 17.

Some of them, who spoke in an interview with SaharaReporters in Akure on Tuesday, said their joy of making money amid the pandemic had been cut short by the government’s decision.

Abiodun Ariola, an operator at the Alagbaka area of the state, said the decision taken by the government was too harsh and unfair to them.

He said since the state government had allowed churches, mosques and markets to open, it should have given operators of football viewing centres the same privilege.

“People go to the markets, churches, courts and other public places but they are stopping us from operating. I feel this is unfair and it is also part of the discussions that our government is not being sincere about this COVID-19.”

Other operators shared a different view. Olaide Babatunde said the decision of the government was for the overall interest but might not go down well with others.

Olaide explained that it would be difficult to control football fans at viewing centres mostly because of the high emotions generated during matches

He said, “Others won’t be happy with the governor’s decision but I see it as a good one which is even in the best interest of the citizens. At least, since March that the virus spread into the country, we have been surviving. So, we should try and endure it for the main time rather than put the lives of our people in danger.”

Isaac Obadina, another operator of a football viewing centre in the state capital, expressed his delight at the return of football leagues across Europe.

He said since the lockdown started, he had been depending on people and friends to feed his family even though he has a football viewing centre that could generate an income for him.

Others advised the government to reconsider its decision, saying like the churches, they would be willing to introduce safety measures for their customers.

“We can provide hand sanitizers as safety measures,” Mr Ibrahim Saidu told Sahara Reporters.

Already, Ondo State had 19 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 12 days, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 43 as on Tuesday. The English Premier League, Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A are due to resume June 17, 11 and 20 respectively.




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