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Player contracts should be extended due to coronavirus: FIFA
26 March 2020, 9:25 PM

Current contracts for players and coaches should be extended until the end of the delayed domestic soccer seasons, according to an internal FIFA document presented to its coronavirus working group.

The confidential document, seen by Reuters, also recommends allowing transfer windows to be changed in accordance with new season dates and urges clubs and players to work together to find solutions to salary payments during stoppages.

The document is due to be discussed by members of FIFA’s Working Group later on Thursday. No decision on the issues has yet been taken by FIFA.

FIFA set up the working group on March 18 and said in a statement that it will “assess the need for amendments or temporary dispensations to the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players’ to protect contracts for both players and clubs and adjusting player registration periods.

“This work has already started and will be conducted in consultation with all key stakeholders, including confederations, member associations, clubs, leagues and players,” FIFA added.

Most domestic and international football competitions around the world have been suspended due to the pandemic and national team tournaments such as Euro 2020 and the Copa America have been postponed.

While domestic leagues are hoping to resume when the threat from the virus has receded, concrete start dates have yet to be fixed.

That leaves the issue of expiring player contracts, which are usually timed to finish at the end of a given season, as a potential headache.

The key suggestion to the working group in the document seen by Reuters is that “where an agreement is due to expire at the original end date of a season, such expiry be extended until the new end date of the season”.

SHIFTING CALENDAR

The same approach would apply to deals for next season, with their start date delayed in accordance with the shifting calendar.

The risk of some domestic divisions starting and finishing earlier or some national leagues having a different start date to other countries is also tackled in the document.

“In case of overlapping seasons and/or registration periods, and unless all parties agree otherwise, priority be given to the former club to complete their season with their original squad, in order to safeguard the integrity of a domestic league championship”.

Transfer payments between clubs, scheduled around league start and end dates should also be delayed until the new start date of a season or its first registration period, the document states.

The working group will also examine the issue of clubs’ responsibilities to pay their staff when leagues are suspended.

The document states that clubs, players and coaches should be encouraged to work together to agree on salary reductions and deferrals.

Yet they should consider the alternative, where possible, that agreements between clubs and employees are suspended when teams are not playing or training.

It is also recommended that FIFA use its newly-created ‘Fund for Professional Players’ to help ease any difficulties that clubs are facing.

Transfer windows, fixed around the end and start of the seasons, will also need to be adjusted to fit in with altered season dates and the document suggests such changes should be allowed, so long as they do not exceed the maximum 16-week period.

Glencore closes some operations in four countries over coronavirus curbs
26 March 2020, 8:52 PM

Glencore PLC on Thursday halted a number of smaller mines due to government restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but added its larger operations were not materially impacted.

The London-listed company said it would shut its oil operations in Chad, some coal and ferroalloys operations in South Africa and Colombia, as well as nickel and zinc mines in Canada.

“To date, our larger operations have not been materially impacted, however, a number of our smaller assets have had to restrict or stop operations,” the miner said in a statement.

Glencore joins peers such as Anglo American, Antofagasta, Codelco and Teck Resources in temporarily closing or slowing some operations, hitting global supply of commodities.

To slow the spread of the virus, South Africa and Colombia installed nation-wide quarantines this week that will run until mid-April, while Quebec province in Canada ordered non-essential businesses to close.

Africa’s window to contain coronavirus narrowing: WHO
26 March 2020, 8:36 PM

About half of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa still have a “narrowing” opportunity to curb the spread of coronavirus in the local population, the regional head of the World Health Organisation said on Thursday.

The virus has multiplied across Africa more slowly than in Asia or Europe, but more than 40 nations on the continent have now reported a total of 2,850 with 73 fatalities, according to a Reuters tally.

“It has been a very dramatic evolution,” Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Africa head, told a media teleconference.

Governments across the region needed to invest their efforts in aggressively tracing all those people who have been in contact with imported cases, in order to isolate them and prevent transmission of the disease locally.

“Countries need to work on this containment while preparing for a possible, broader expansion of the virus,” she said.

The effort needs to be accompanied by public education campaigns to ensure people are maintaining physical distances, something that could help limit the spread of the virus, and should complement other measures put in place like halting passenger flights.

South Africa has ordered a lockdown of its population for three weeks while Kenya has imposed a night-time curfew to prevent the disease from spreading.

“We still have a window… it is narrowing every day as data on the geographic spread to more and more countries tell us,” Moeti said.

John Nkengasong, the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a health body of the African Union, said African leaders were preparing to engage with their wealthier counterparts to secure vital supplies like respirators and ventilators in case infection rates worsen.

Nkengasong told the same teleconference that countries with advanced industrial bases like South Africa, Egypt and Morocco could be used to produce such equipment if needed.

South African port closures to hit global copper supply
26 March 2020, 8:04 PM

South Africa’s main export terminals will be closed to mineral exports from midnight on Thursday when a nationwide 21-day lockdown over coronavirus begins, disrupting copper supply from major producer Zambia.

Miners in the Zambian copper belt typically transport copper overland to South Africa’s ports, where it is exported mainly to China, the world’s biggest consumer of the metal.

Communications from port authorities seen by Reuters showed South Africa’s “bulk terminals” – ports processing imports and exports of mineral commodities – would shut for the duration of the lockdown.

“All bulk terminals (mineral mining commodities) will be closed,” a note from national port operator Transnet Port Terminals read, according to a shipping agent.

Contacted by Reuters, Transnet Port Terminals did not immediately confirm that mineral commodities would not be exported.

The note said the multi-purpose terminals of East London, Saldanha, Port Elizabeth and Maydon Wharf would all be closed, as well as all automotive terminals. The manganese export terminal of Port Elizabeth would also be closed.

“Transnet has taken a decision to scale down all of its transportation services and operations for non-essential cargo during the period of the state of lockdown,” the managers of Richards Bay terminals said in a letter to clients seen by Reuters.

Only agricultural bulk products such as grains, soya bean meal, fertiliser and wood chips, deemed essential during the lockdown, would continue to be handled, the note said.

“They will not be taking in cargo or outloading cargo as the terminal will not have staff,” said another note shared by an industry source, in reference to the bulk terminal at Durban port, South Africa’s main gateway for copper exports.

Copper miner First Quantum on Tuesday said it was managing the export of its Zambian copper production through “alternate routes” due to controls on ports and transit routes in South Africa.

South Africa exported $209 million worth of copper in 2018, according to United Nations COMTRADE data. China imported 25,000 tonnes of Zambian copper, the data showed.

Rakoma and his exco back as leadership of SAFA Capricorn region
26 March 2020, 6:55 PM

The Limpopo High Court on Thursday reinstated Abel Rakoma and his executive committee back to the leadership of SAFA Capricorn region with immediate effect.

The judgment brings the two and a half year dispute between the group and the association to an end.

The Rakoma led committee was disbanded by SAFA head office in December 2018 with the interim committee only elected at the beginning of March 2020.

The group felt they were unconstitutionally removed from their positions.  SAFA, who are the respondents in this case, were not in court in Polokwane on Thursday morning leaving Judge George Phatudi to rule in the applicant’s favour as SAFA’s absenteeism reasons were not solid.

In the audio below, a representative of the group Amos Vilakazi of AM-Tau-Vilkazi Attorneys explains the proceedings.

Vilakazi adds that had it not been for the national lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus starting at midnight, his clients should be walking into their offices and commencing with work.

The attorney further says he is expecting SAFA to fight the judgment however is confident the association does not have a leg to stand on.

In the audio below, he also adds that the biggest lesson to be drawn from this case is that people in leadership should stop abusing their authority.

Meanwhile, Rakoma says he is relieved that the matter has come to an end.

In the audio below, Rakoma adds that the group was removed unconstitutionally and justice has been served.

– Report by Lethabo Kganyago

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