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‘Strict’ Covid-19 protocols flouted in CHAN opener

Cameroon may have to face a reality check after the clear flouting of coronavirus guidelines during the African Nations Championship opener between the Indomitable Lions and Zimbabwe on Saturday.

Hosts Cameroon won the encounter 1-0 thanks to Salomon Banga’s late overhead winner, but images taken during the contest and the live broadcast of the vent showed extensive flouting of Covid-19 guidelines during the fixture.

In one image, fans—few of whom are wearing masks appropriately—are shown congregating on a balcony to celebrate with goalscorer Banga, with the supporters in question clearly failing to observe social-distancing guidelines.

Similarly, in another shot from the fixture, three Cameroon fans—adorned in paint and carrying flags—have replaced their masks to pose for a photograph.

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Despite the ongoing global pandemic, Chan has gone ahead in Cameroon, but only on the condition that various safety and health criteria are met.

The tournament was originally due to take place in April 2020, but it was pushed back to this year in light of the global health pandemic afflicting the world.

For Africa’s first major footballing event taking place since the start of the pandemic to go ahead, Cameroon took various steps to ensure the safety of fans in the stadium.

Earlier this week, the Central African country outlined—specifically—the rules that must be followed within stadiums.

“In a bid to respect the Covid-19 protocol established by Caf and Fifa, Caf and Cameroon have agreed on the rate of occupation of stadiums during the competition as follows: 25 percent for all group matches including the opening match and 50 percent for all semi-finals and finals,” read a statement signed by Cameroon’s Minister of Sports and Physical Education Narcisse Mouelle Kombi as seen by Goal.

“The wearing of face masks will be mandatory in stadiums and social distancing will be strictly applied,” the statement continued. “The non-respect of the measures shall expose defaulters to the risk of expulsion from the stadium.”

Goal has approached the Confederation of African Football about the consequence of such clear flouting of Covid-19 guidelines during the opening fixture at the biennial tournament for home-based players.

According to the World Health Organisation, there have been 27,336 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 451 deaths in Cameroon since January 3.

Ahead of the match, Zimbabwe coach Zdravko Logarusic accused the hosts of witchcraft after the carcass of a bat was found on the pitch, although it remains to be seen whether Caf will take action.

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