Covid-19 vaccines are now being administered to players, officials and technical staff of the Dhiraagu Dhivehi Premier League, as part of efforts to have the DDPL resume soon.
The DDPL was suspended on 3 February, after the Health Protection Agency (HPA) issued an order banning sports and sports related activities in the capital of Male' City following a spike in Covid-19 cases. With this, First Division clubs, players and coaches have been faced with many difficulties, especially as the DDPL is conducted at a very high cost, and due to international matches for the 2021 AFC Cup Qualifiers and Group Stage slated for the upcoming month of March.
Since the club was suspended, DDPL coaches and clubs have been calling for a swift decision on when play can be resumed, requesting that authorities allow clubs to restart practices and prepare to continue the league even under stricter health and safety guidelines.
While efforts are underway to coordinate with authorities to restart the league, President of the Football Association of Maldives (FAM) Bassam Adeel Jaleel tweeted on Monday confirming that all players, managements and technical staff of the Dhiraagu Dhivehi Premier League are being vaccinated in efforts to have the league resume as quickly as possible. In his tweet, Bassam offered special thanks to the Minister of Health Ahmed Naseem and Minister of Youth and Sports Ahmed Mahloof.
Bassam had previously expressed in an appearance on Raajje TV's "Kulhivaru File" programme that DDPL teams and officials were ready to restart the league even if it meant they would all have to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. He also affirmed that the clubs would provide their full cooperation to health authorities, and that the hope was to have play resume for the DDPL as soon as possible.
Speaking at a press conference held on Friday on behalf of the Health Emergency Operations Center (HEOC), member of the Technical Advisory Group Dr. Ali Latheef stated that at this critical juncture, health authorities could only ease restrictions for essential operations only. However, he clarified that they were attempting to allow resumption of play for national sports competitions and events, and went on to state that he could not explicitly say if such an approval could be granted at this time.
While play was discontinued abruptly for the DDPL early in February, no Covid-19 clusters have been identified within the football community in relation to DDPL matches. At the time of the league's suspension, a total of 34 matches had been played in the Dhiraagu Dhivehi Premier League.