Coronavirus how it hit football finance in Africa

virus 3d illustration

Just four months into 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has swept across the planet, obliterating sports events and forcing suspensions, postponements and outright cancellations.
A sporting calendar that promised so much – including the Olympics, Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, European Championships, African Athletics championship, the CHAN tournament – has instead become a series of blank weeks and months as event after event succumbed to postponements and cancellations.
The end of live sport around the world has meant that players, coaches, clubs and federations have seen money dry up. Across Africa this has presented many challenges. Here, we look at those affecting football in particular.
”Football is life – the moment football stops, it is like life has stopped too”, laments David Juma, captain of Kakamega Homeboyz in Kenya’s Premier League.
For all that football is Africa’s most popular sport, the passion does not easily translate to an attractive bank balance even in normal times in comparison to leagues across Europe and America.
According to the KPL – one of East Africa’s top football leagues – 50% of its footballers earn an average monthly salary of $200. This leaves most players dependent on match bonuses, travelling allowance and winning bonuses.
Without games to play, none of these can be secured. Added to this has been the exit of league sponsors SportPesa.
And other players in the KPL do not earn a monthly wage at all, and earn by having jobs with the company that owns the club. In the pandemic, most of those companies are themselves struggling.
“We were told we will take a 50% pay cut – our boss is also in business, and because of corona there is no business that is doing well,” Juma continues.
“As a businessman, he knew paying our full salaries was unsustainable – so this was instead of sending away people unpaid.”