The Joy of football viewing centre operators in Ondo State has been cut short, as the state government under the leadership of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu place ban on the operation of football viewing centres in the state.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in his weekly broadcast in Akure on Monday, said the step was taken to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in the state.
The state had 19 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 12 days, taking the total number in the state to 43.
“Situations like this call for dire, swift and sustained measures. Government will proceed to take all necessary steps to reverse this threat to the people of the state. To this end the following steps have been approved as our invigorated approach to the spread of the pandemic:
“All residents are encouraged to practise, more than before, social and physical distancing, use of facemasks, hand washing and travel restriction.
“All Premiership football viewing centres are hereby banned from operations until further notice,” Akeredolu said.
Some of the viewing centre operators, who spoke with our correspondent, expressed their sadness on their inability to resume business after being out for close to three months following the suspension of sporting activities globally due to COVID-19.
“Will the government give us money? We have been home for more than three months. At least they have allowed churches and mosques to operate for one hour, all these are just sentiments. People go to the markets, churches, courts and other public places but they are stopping us from operating,” Tosin Akinyemi, a viewing centre operator in Akure.
“Since this lockdown, I’ve been without money, I resorted to asking people for money at some point, when I had a football house (viewing centre) worth N900,000. There is nothing the government can do, I will open my viewing centre and show matches except the government is ready to give us money.” Another operator around the FUTA area of Akure, Femi Kehinde, said even though he was sad about the decision, he felt it was for the good of the citizens.
“Though, I am not happy but at the same time it is for the betterment of the citizens. Life is more important than making money and putting people at risk, because you can’t control football fans, once they start celebrating, they can be uncontrollable,” .
Reported that operators of football viewing centres expressed their delight at the return of league football across Europe.
Some of them who spoke with our correspondent said they were already prepared for the showing of live matches to fans.
They also spoke about the plans they had put in place to ensure the safety of their viewers.
The German Bundesliga resumed on May 16, with five rounds of matches already played.
The English Premier League, Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A are also due to resume June 17, 11 and 20 respectively.