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Jordan Professional Football League halts again

By Aline Bannayan - Aug 22,2020 - Last updated at Aug 22,2020

AMMAN  —  With seven Faisali football team members so far testing positive for COVID-19, the 68th Jordan Professional League was again put on hold only three weeks after it resumed earlier this month.

Five players and two staff members tested positive while Ramtha players were quarantined in Amman after many cases in the city of Ramtha led to heightened alert and more testing countrywide.

The Jordan Football Federation (JFA) initially postponed Ramtha’s matches, but after the Faisali cases came up, it was announced on the weekend the league would be put on hold for two weeks.

Following Week 4, Wihdat remained in the lead after beating Aqaba 3-0. They are followed by JFA Shield semifinalists Sarih who beat Jazira 3-1. Faisali stayed in the top three after they beat Sahab 3-2. Ramtha held newcomers Ma’an 1-1 and Shabab Urdun held Salt 0-0 find themselves midway through the rankings. Hussein beat Ahli 1-0 as the latter joined Aqaba at the bottom of the table after a winless record so far.

The initial kickoff earlier this year was delayed for nearly six months for the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup national team qualifiers. Clubs had already been reeling with lack of sponsors, injuries and lack of momentum after a long break with reigning champs Faisali the first to start the season on a weak footing after they lost in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup.

In addition to COVID-19 fears, the current league was put on hold in March after teams played one round following which 11 clubs announced they were suspending participation as the JFA downsized prize money compounded by noticeable officiating mistakes.

The JFA’s main sponsor, the Manaseer Group, ended its 10-year sponsorship last year, leading to noticeably downsized prize money for the league champ from JD120,000 to JD60,000, and from JD80,000 to JD30,000 for the runner-up. Similarly, the Jordan Cup champs will get JD30,000 down from JD57,000. The Super Cup and Shield winners prize was also slashed to JD25,000.

The season recently kicked off with Wihdat beating Ramtha to win the 33rd Jordan Football Association Shield. It was Wihdat’s record 10th Shield title while Ramtha, who have not won a major competition recently, last won the Jordan Cup in 1990-1991 and the Shield in 2001.

On the other hand, Faisali beat Jazira to win the 37th Jordan Super Cup — the second major competition on the annual football calendar. The Super Cup has now been won by Faisali a record 17 times out of 25 final appearances, Wihdat have won 13 times, Ramtha and Shabab Urdun twice each while Jazira, Hussein and Ahli won once each.

Last year’s league remained undecided until the final two weeks before Faisali took home their record 34th title, one point ahead of Jazira who had led throughout the competition and settled for runner-up. With financial difficulties, Jazira have had an issue consolidating their line-up and were unimpressive in regional events. Titleholders Wihdat settled for third, Shabab Urdun finished fourth, Salt finished 5th, Aqaba finished 6th. 

That Ras, a previous Asian Football Confederation Cup participant and 2012 Jordan Cup champ, were the first be relegated to the First Division, followed by Baqa’a.

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