July 18 (Reuters) - The return of the Zambian Super League on Saturday has been mired in controversy after leaders Forest Rangers revealed that 28 players and staff had tested positive for COVID-19, but were instructed to honour their fixture against Zanaco in Ndola.
Rangers said on Saturday morning, hours before the re-start of the 2019-20 campaign, that they had 28 positive tests out of 58 conducted at the club.
Seventeen of the positive cases are players, this despite a club social media post on Tuesday, which has since been edited, that said all tests had come back negative.
Club spokesperson Christina Zulu said the social media post related only to the 30 negative cases, and that all 28 positive cases were revealed to the team later.
“There were two lots of tests done,” Zulu told Reuters by telephone. “I cannot comment on how the results were received, but earlier in the week all the results we had were negative.
“But we are ready to play, our game with Zanaco will go ahead as scheduled. That is our understanding.”
The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) was caught unawares by reports of the positive cases at Rangers, saying the country’s Ministry of Health had revealed nothing to them.
Zambia’s sports ministry also stated that the league must resume as planned on Saturday.
There are 10 rounds remaining in the Super League season with six points separating leaders Rangers and Lusaka Dynamos in sixth in a congested top section of the table. (Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Ed Osmond)