In a land mark case that was first reported to FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber by Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB), the former has issued a stern fine to Gaborone United in a matter involving one of its former players, Appiah Bismarck.
Bismarck had reported the matter to FUB after he received a termination letter dated January 04, 2016 from GU. The release letter, signed by GU secretary general, City Senne informed Bismarck that his contract was prematurely terminated.
He was later to argue that his two year contract, which was initially supposed to end in May 2017, was terminated without just cause or sporting just cause. After a series of correspondences with GU, FUB later complained in February 2016 that the team had continued to ignore them and in return opting to continue unlawfully terminating players’ contracts against FIFA’s principles of creating contractual stability.
GU did not bother to engage the union further and it was then that the matter was first referred to FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber in April 2016. Within five days of receipt of FUB’s complaint, FIFA responded asking for some additional information among them, the power of attorney, grounds of the claim and other relevant documents
To this end, in its argument to FIFA, FUB prayed for an order compelling GU to compensate the player for the remainder of his contract. Parallel to this process and some time at the end of February 2016, Bismarck had through his legal representatives, International Sports Law Centre wrote to Nicolas Zakhem demanding that the player be paid the 16 months left on his contract, according to FIFA article 21 and 67 paragraph 1 of the FIFA Status committee and the Dispute Resolution Chamber conditions for professional players. GU was therefore asked to pay a total of USD39 000 for the remainder of the contract.
When asked why the opted to report the matter to FIFA, FUB secretary general Kgosana Masaseng said, in 2016 when they were handling the matter, the current dispute resolution chamber was not yet established. On the merits of the case, Masaseng said as FUB, they felt that the unlawful termination of players’ contracts was designed to damage the players standing in the eyes of future potential players.
After Bismarck left the country to try his luck in Eastern Europe, FUB agreed to hand over the matter to his lawyers led by Ercan Sevdimbas. Two years later, this matter now seems to be far from over. It turns out that GU has been ignoring a FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber judgement issued on the 29th September 2016.
It therefore came as no surprise that in March 2018, FIFA through the deputy secretary of the disciplinary committee, Alexander Jacobs notified GU that they had not acted in accordance with the decision passed by the dispute resolution chamber judge in 2016. The communique said, this was a violation of article 64 of the FIFA disciplinary code and as such, it will be the subject of an investigation by the FIFA disciplinary committee. The committee has therefore initiated disciplinary proceedings against GU in respect of a violation of article 64 of the Dispute Resolution Chamber.
Furthermore, the letter from FIFA to the attention of the association hints that GU’s case will be submitted to a member of the FIFA disciplinary committee for evaluation in accordance with Article 78 of the FIFA disciplinary committee so that disciplinary measures (fine, deduction of points, and relegation to lower league) may be imposed on the club.
In light of this, FIFA urged GU to immediately Bismarck the outstanding amount due (USD39 500 plus 5% interest per annum) to be calculated in accordance with the decision of the Dispute Resolution Chamber judge dated 29th September 2016.
GU was given until April 3rd 2018 to pay the outstanding amounts. Accordingly, the team had not met the deadline by press time and it now appears that the matter will be submitted to a member of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee for consideration and a formal decision is expected within the next week.
When reached for clarity GU’s Secretary General City Senne said they have communicated with FIFA on how they can play the player. According to Senne, the team is waiting FIFA reply. According to an insider at the team, although Bismarck was signed by Dragojlo Stanojlovic, the coach did not believe in the services of the player. The source said the club is in this mess because of the coach who is also in the process of filing a claim against the team for the unfair termination of his contract.
Meanwhile FUB has indicated that after a landmark agreement with FIFA, players’ welfare issues have been given a priority. “The BFA has also joined other associations by establishing the Dispute Resolution Chamber and we are pleased with this development as most of our players have been subjected to a lot of unfair labour practises,” Masaseng said.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) arbitration tribunal is set to hear a case in which Molepolole City Stars is challenging the 2019-20 football season curtailment that led to their untimely relegation. The season was abruptly ended amid the ravaging COVID-19 scourge when the government decided to place the whole country under lockdown.
In particular, City Stars, under Somerset Gobuiwang, challenges the rationale and fairness of the association to end the league when there were several options to pursue. The club does not want to contest the authority of the national executive committee to stop the league but argues that the decision to relegate them based on the log standing was unfair, irrational and unreasonable.
Moreover, the decision was against the spirit of the game and not the most appropriate one under circumstances where they were still about 10 league games to play. As the papers were submitted, City Stars argues that the most appropriate step would have been to suspend the league and protect the league standing. “The league would then resume when it was safe to do so, as indeed it is happening now, with the log standings maintained as they were,” the court papers read.
The team, which was languishing at the bottom of the table when the decision was taken, also argues and gives an alternative that the league could have ended without relegation issues. City Stars argues, “This would be in recognition of the undeniable facts that the league was not complete and that the log standings at the time were not in any way an indicator of how they would have been had the league been allowed to run its course.”
Furthermore, Molepolole City Stars are livid that the association did not consider that the complainant had valid contracts with its staff and players and that such agreement could not be terminated abruptly. On the one hand, BFA said it was looking at three options before ending the league. Facts and scenarios informed each decision, and one was independent of the other, it was argued.
The first option, BFA says, was to stop the league where it was and crown the team that occupied the first place, which was Jwaneng Galaxy. Furthermore, three teams lying at the bottom of the table would be relegated, and teams on pole positions from Debswana First Division north and south will be promoted automatically.
By all accounts, the association felt it was a controversial option to undertake but also fairer for the sake of progress. The second available possibility was to stretch the season and consequently change the football calendar. “There has been a shelved proposal that recommends the change of our season from the usual August-May calendar to February – November because of health reasons,” BFA president MacLean Letshwiti said before making the decision.
The last possibility was to nullify all the leagues. This was — and continued to be — the last resort. Across all the global leagues, the domestic campaign had only 10 matches left, which could, in theory, be completed in the space of five weeks. In the end, BFA feels that a decision had to be made for the sake of progress. The dates of the hearing are yet to be made public.
Pontsho Moloi’s character and football standing as a young coach have embodied simplicity and hard work for far too long. Moloi is a local bred coach who has so far threatened foreign gaffers with his coaching philosophy, a style that is exciting and irking football purists in equal measure.
As Moloi is famously known in football circles, Piro has coached a few different clubs in the homeland, but his stewardship of Gaborone United last season — going into the new one- remains his best memorable achievement ever. Before the 2019-20 season was stopped because of the COVID-19 outbreak, GU was one of the league’s favourites.
But as any self-respecting purveyor of sporting cliché knows, it is never a bad idea to keep quiet and let your football do the talking. The only hanging problem for Piro is that he has often wanted to let his talking do the talking — which is a shame since, by and large, his football, both as a player and coach, has spoken loudly enough.
Piro’s coaching resume is fascinating and worth the test for a coach whose career is barely two years old. He has presided over big guns, one staggeringly good debut top-flight campaign, one freewheeling title charge, and one dramatic league season. Yet throughout, he has continued to serve as a punch line, painted by a substantial cohort.
Now, three games into the current season, his Gaborone United side sit at the top of the pile, having won all their games and remarkably keeping a clean sheet. No team has scored more goals than Piro’s side. Is Botswana football finally ready to recognize Piro as an elite-level coach? In fact, why has it not done so already?
The answer is not straightforward, regardless of what some of his harsher detractors would want to believe, although it is true that he has often failed to do himself any favours when a microphone has been aimed his way. In today’s culture, it only takes one slip of the tongue — one tiny sound bite lacking in self-awareness — to make you look silly.
Piro’s model has worked across the board: promotion-chasing minnow, sleeping giant, trophy-hovering Goliath figure, and now an aspirational upper-middleweight.
In each instance, he has found a new gear, improved his team beyond expectation and created a side better than the sum of its parts, at least for a time. Young and veteran players excel under his watch. Attackers — especially hard-running and bloodthirsty centre-forwards, Thatayaone Kgamanyane — flourish like never before. And for once, he has needed big money to make significant progress. Yet even at United, the least tangibly successful of his last three jobs and one where things went downhill towards the end, he put together sensationally exciting teams.
Now at GU, pundits still ask whether he will last longer at the top or he will soon fall. His demonstrations this season speak volumes about winning a bigger and better trophy this season. Can he deliver, or time will tell? Part of the answer will come as the season wears on.
Football giants Township Rollers and Gaborone United have emerged as early favourites to win the newly refined Botswana Football League (BFL), following a perfect start to the season.
There is a sense of relief from different quarters that this new football season, still striving to secure a title sponsor, is set to be packed with more excitement and action than anticipated. Seasons’ never-ending transfer rumour mill, coupled with half-paced friendlies, have their place in football, but they were indeed only going to be a tasty little snack before the sumptuous banquet, which is a new season.
Each team has played three games. At the time of going to print, Gaborone United, driven by local gaffers Innocent Morapedi and Pontso Moloi, remains in pole position with 9 points, maintaining an unbeaten record. The club also holds another record as only to club yet to concede. Also, on pole position is Township Rollers, who remain of the favourites to clinch the title come season end.
Languishing at the bottom of the log is Extension Gunners. The Lobatse based outfit have already pressed panic buttons by sacking their coach. It is still early days, but it appears The Peleng Boys, as they are affectionately called, are suffering early relegation season syndrome. They have played three games and are still struggling to find a win, let alone finding the back of the net.
Big guns like Orapa United and Jwaneng Galaxy have tried to bolster their squads but have failed to stamp authority in their first three encounters. Galaxy look set to be a better team, but two registered wins and a loss may as well betray this standing belief. Orapa, on the other hand, has grouped experienced players in their camp. Die-hard followers hope that this may be a fruitful season, but a midweek loss against Police XI in their backyard leaves followers questioning the readiness of their technical team as the season gets hot.
Township Rollers are breathing heavily on Gaborone United backs. The two teams now becoming rivals are equal on points, but much of the scrutiny is on GU, whose defence might be critical to this year’s championship. The need for news and views — not to mention wins in Lobatse and Francistown or wherever will once again become the all-consuming passion in many football lovers’ lives. Some had reason to be happier than most. That is why Sua Flamingoes and Masitaoka are ecstatic for their first 2021 victories.
A logical decree is that the Premier League’s usual suspects will have it all their way again. Talent galore and bottomless pockets of cash were enough to ensure yet more silverware ends up in already crammed trophy cabinets. The cream, as they say, always tends to rise to the top. Week 1 of this first half-season was the most interesting one. Eighteen goals were scored, and Thatayaone Kgamanyane of GU became the first player to score a Premier League goal this season.
Premier League Chief Executive Officer Solomon Ramochothwane believes this will be the most competitive season of recent seasons. “It is tight and competitive, and we might have a new champion at the end,” he opined. He also expressed happiness that numbers will grow at the stadiums as time goes on. But beyond the shadow of a doubt, the return of Premier League fourth round — as remarkable as the first three laps — will signal several months of nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat tension.