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Footballers in Zimbabwe Play in 'Money matches' to Support Families

FILE: A soccer match between rivals - Highlanders and Dynamos soccer clubs featuring in the Premier Soccer League.

After the 2019 Zimbabwe Premier League concluded in December that year, football players and fans looked ahead to the next campaign in March 2020.

However, the coronavirus pandemic struck and the government banned all sporting activities.

As a result, professional athletes have seen their incomes disappear and Zimbabwean footballers have been particularly badly hit.

Unsanctioned social soccer 'money games' - where teams play high risk fixtures for a cash pot - have sprung up across the country, often on poor surfaces and with little social distancing.

Players expose themselves to injury and of course Covid-19, but the need to put food on the table for their families force tough decisions to be made.

"These (local) premier league players there are leaving a very miserable life. They live on soccer, but at the moment there is nothing to write home about," one player coach, Moses Chasweka, told SNTV. "They eat sleep and drink football, but at the end of the day there is nothing, no incentives, no Covid-19 allowance at the moment. They are surviving by the grace of God."

The governing body, the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) has condemned participation in 'money games' on the basis that they are breaking the country's laws to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and are also in breach of ZIFA's code of ethics.

But until league football resumes, the pressure on Zimbabwe's footballers to take part in unofficial 'money games' will continue.

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