Rwanda: What Next After Rwanda Premier League Suspension?

After three match days, the Ministry of Sports on Friday, December 11, suspended the 2020/21 Rwanda Premier League indefinitely after it was found that some players and clubs had violated covid-19 guidelines, which resulted in new cases.

The new season, started on December 4, remains suspended until further notice.

The decision came after 12 Rayon Sports players tested positive for Covid-19 after the club’s 1-1 draw against Rutsiro FC on December 4 in Rubavu.

Both clubs were put in isolation as a result and their next league games were postponed to a later date.

The premier league suspension, however, surprised top flight clubs which are already claiming to be at risk financial losses from the investments made so far.

Kiyovu SC is one of the clubs that invested millions of francs prior to the 2020/21 season targeting to win its first league title in 27 years.

The Mumena-based club has so far spent over Rwf 200 million during the transfer market signing new players, rent for a residential camp and salaries, according to club president Juvenal Mvukiyehe.

Mvukiyehe told Times Sport that the suspension of Rwanda Premier League is already affecting the club financially after the partnership deals that the club has been negotiating with potential companies were immediately put on hold.

“We made long-term investments and we are at loss already. You can imagine the money we invested for this season but such a decision comes all of a sudden, without even informing us beforehand,” said Mvukiyehe.

He claimed that only one club [Rayon Sports] should not have pushed the government to suspend the league because the decision is already affecting all clubs financially.

“If cases were reported in only one club, then the club should have taken responsibility for the consequences instead of suspending the league. Many clubs are not happy with this decision because we are already counting losses,” he said.

On the other hand, Sunrise FC Vice-President William Nimwebaze, said that a meeting with clubs should have been held before taking such a serious decision to avoid losses that are caused by such a sudden directive.

Such huge losses, he said, could see a big number of clubs struggle to get back to football business if the wait to resume the league takes long.

“Many of us will find it difficult to bounce back from this huge loss because we are going to pay players’ wages, rent and other expenses while the football activities are suspended,” Nimwebaze claimed.

In September, all sporting disciplines in the country were given greenlight to resume activities – training and competitions – but on a condition that they strictly comply with safety guidelines.

Oleg Karambizi, the advisor to the Minister of Sports reminded clubs that, like all Rwandans, non-compliance to Covid-19 preventive measures puts at risk the health of not only athletes and technical teams but the public, in general.

“The ministry took this decision based on non-compliance to Covid-19 preventive measures. Government is responsible for its citizens’ health safety,” Karambizi told Times Sport in an interview on Sunday, December 13.

“The FA needs to sit and review Rwanda Premier League plans accordingly. And, as far as business and investments are concerned, we shouldn’t ignore the Covid-19 prevalence and its rising cases, “he added.

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