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Ref fees shameful

We all know that Footballers in top leagues are paid way over the top in weekly and monthly wages but the referees officiating across various leagues are paid in peanuts compared to footballers.

In Botswana referees are pegged at embarrassingly low scales that could make one tinge with fear after the Global Competitiveness Report lifted corruption to spot number five as one of the most problematic factors for doing business in the country – mind you, football is a business.  

Just last week, the BTC Premiership Sponsorship for the Botswana Football Association (BFA) was renewed and signed. Telling announcements were pronounced at the occasion such as increase in the prizes to be awarded to champions and Man of the Match awards. A BTC Premiership Man of the Match will walk away with P2500 and an airtime voucher of P250. The perception from the referee community is that they are always forgotten at when issues are being thrashed at the table.

Nothing was announced in the direction of referees, their assessors and assistant referees. During the Bennet Mamelodi era, premiership referees’ fees were increased from P400 to P800 following acquisition of the League sponsorship, albeit this was the Botswana Premier League just going out of the way to recognize the men and women in the middle of the pitch, the BFA National Executive Committee is in fact responsible for their welfare at policy and strategy level.

Premier league referees still earn P800 per match today. Compared to their colleagues in the Southern African region, the figure is simply “embarrassing” says one of the local referees who preferred anonymity. He makes it clear that referees’ mistakes during match officiating should not even be mentioned when referees make a case for better allowances, “the two issues need separate platforms,” he says.  “Mind you a match can go on without a man of the match but it comes to a halt when there is no referee,” he adds.  

In Zimbabwe, a country whose economy is almost on its knees, Premier match referees are paid $180 per match or P1800 (roughly) while assistant referees are paid $160 or (P1600). In 2011 South African Premiership referees earned R4 250 per match before tax, while the PSL assistant referees pocketed R3 312, also before tax. In the same year First Division referees received R3 312 before tax, while their assistants will earn R2 187,50. And as of 2016 the new match fee for Premiership referees in South Africa is now R4887.50 before tax, which represents a 15% increase, while their assistants will now pocket R3809.38. The fees are applicable to league and cup competitions. Their National First Division counterparts also received a 15% increase.

The referees in South Africa's second tier now earn R3809.38, while their assistants will get R2515.63 per game. Match commissioners in the Premier League are now rewarded R4056.25 per match and those handling First Division matches will get R3987.50.
To make matters worse Botswana referees are expected to buy their own uniform which collectively (shorts, t-shirts, socks and boots) will require around P1500. Only five local referees are listed with FIFA and they are the only ones who enjoy free clothing from the world football governing body.

Eatametse Olopeng, the man at the helm of Botswana referees through the Referees Association reacts: “We have recently tabled a proposal before the BFA NEC as to how the conditions of service of referees could be improved. We are hopeful that the matter would be considered favorably. But we must be cognizant of the environment that we operate within. Some of the Leagues do not have sponsors and it is difficult to argue for remuneration of referees accordingly.”   Olopeng admits that local referees are underpaid but he says the lack of sponsorships makes it difficult for the Referees Association to protect and speak for its members. “We are aware that some of the Leagues have no money at all hence it is almost impossible to pitch a proposal with the structures.”

He says the situation is better at National Leagues (premier league and First Division) because there are sponsors. He explains that in the lower divisions, Regions have to find means of paying the referees somehow. A referee in the lower league is paid P100 per match in Botswana. Regions get an annual budget of P30 000 from the BFA to use towards paying referees’ fees, Olopeng says. To demonstrate the dire financial strain, the Referees’ Committee has streamlined roles in the First Division, an assessor working in that league is compelled to act the roles of match commissioner and fourth official all at a go.

“We want to improve the conditions of work for referees, and companies must come on board and support sport. Sport creates jobs,” he says. On other issues, the chairman of the Referees Committee indicates that they want to shape refereeing in the direction of a career hence they have engaged BISA and BOPSSA to identify school going children who are interested in refereeing, “so that we train them young and image the profession in the them,” he adds. Furthermore a recent meeting of the Referees Committee agreed to introduce a subcommittee for Women Referees to motivate for more participation of women referees in football.  

In the past clubs used to be asked to raise funds towards payment of referees and many found the arrangement untidy because it could encourage corruption. Olopeng stresses that “poorly paid referees could be a catalyst for match fixing.” Today a lot of teams are struggling to stay afloat hence they are not in a position to pay referees.
The concerns of the clubs are that they are operating without sponsorship and this is not good for the welfare of the referees.

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Sport

Hostility inside Zebras camp

22nd February 2021
Zebras

The qualifying rounds of the next edition of 2022 Africa Cup of Nations are nearing resumption. But it looks more and stiffer for Adel Amorouche and the Zebras to maneuver the qualifying terrain in March.

So many hurdles lie ahead as the Zebras desperately need to gallop and cross the line. Having drawn tougher opponents that include African champions Algeria and South African perennial campaigners Zimbabwe and Zambia, the contrast with these nations’ squad buoyancy could not be starker.

But what is even more complicated from the Zebras camp is the amount of hostility the coach is forced to face just few days after calling his supposedly troops into camp.

The Algerian gaffer — who is tasked with guiding the squad to the finals of the prestigious tournament for the first time after 9 years — is reportedly facing fresh accusation bordering on favouritism, abuse and sabotage.

This week alone about four players left the camp on different occasions but with similar reasons; that the coach is verbally abusing them.

Amorouche, a well-known strict disciplinarian, is also accused of side-lining players who refuse to agree to his secretly established love of selling national team players to oversee countries.

It has become public knowledge that Amrouche has sold Kabelo Seakanyeng and two former Township Rollers players, Simisane Mathumo and Tumisang Orebonye to a Morocco based club.

It is said on Monday of this week, he attempted to negotiate terms with defender Lesenya Ramoraka for a deal to be established. Those close to the developments state that the former Highlands Park player refused altogether to heed to Amoruche’s call, something that compelled the coach to chase away the player under the pretext that he is injured.

It turns out that indeed Ramoraka is still battling with a recurring knee injury he sustained while at Highlands Park but sources disclose that Amrouche forced matters for Ramoraka to come to camp. Was Amrouche compromised? The question brings multifarious answers.

“The player was called with full knowledge that he is carrying an injury, but it raises eyebrows in the manner he was chased. I mean there is no assessment of his injury, there is no report whatsoever,” a source shared.

It does not end here. Gaborone United player Tshepo Maikano also stormed out of the camp after enduring a tongue lash from his boss. It is said the player did not take it kindly and so was another GU player, Mothusi Thupa.

GU has since written a letter to the association seeking clarity about the development.When asked for comment, national team manager Monnakgotla Mojaki refused to answer to questions from this publication and said the coach himself is better placed to respond.

In 2019, Amrouche took what was an infamous decision to suspended four players from Zebras camp.
At the time, the coach argued that the quartet of Mothusi Cooper, Thero Setsile, Onkabetse Makgantai and Mothusi Johnson failed to show seniority and professionalism. But he has since pardoned them.

Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB) says it is familiarising itself with full details of the issue. Kgosana Masaseng, the Secretary General of the Union said if it really true, then the coach has to man up or face the sack.

“We also hear that as grapevine but we are monitoring the situation. Should this come out as the truth, we call the coach to resign and go home than start abusing players in the name of discipline,” Masaseng said.

Zebras will face The Warriors of Zimbabwe in March but there is strong argument in the ground that Amrouche has already scored an own goal.On the other hand, stories of a disjointed association and less competitive league do point rather wearily to the basic obstacle on Botswana’s own path that for so many years of separation of ownership and club control, with many investors coming to the game and now the Premier League edging Botswana national team’s concerns to the fringes.

Against Zambia last year, Amrouche intended on bringing psychology and massive training to the game, but it also seems that, as much as he want to copy the style of other countries, basic skill is still a needed requirement. To date, Zebras game is based around a diligent, muscular defense and a fast-breaking, penetrative attack by opponents.

Amrouche now know a 2022 failure will not be accepted when the campaign takes another twist. It is safe to forget about Zambia, but as for Botswana, patience is fast running thin.

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Sport

No room for racism – BFA CEO

22nd February 2021
zebras

The Botswana Football Association Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Thabiso Kebotsamang has denied claims that there is racism at the ongoing Zebras camp.

Zebras’ players reported for camp last week to prepare for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier clash with Zimbabwe to be played next month in Francistown.

Botswana is third on the Group H with a point behind Zimbabwe and a win for the Zebras will see them leapfrog Zimbabwe to be second on the log before heading to the already qualified Algeria.

The camp has however been surrounded with controversy after some players were said to have been kicked out of camp.

“We have seen the reports on social media but I can confirm that there is no racism in our camp and we as an association will do not tolerate that and what I have been told is that players were assessed and as the norm some will be dropped due to injuries and various reasons,” said Kebotsamang, who ascended to the hot seat after the association parted ways with Mfolo Mfolo last year.

According to sources within the Zebras camp some players, Tshepo Maikano and Lesenya Ramoraka are said to have left the camp as they felt the coach gave them a strong lashing.

“Tshepo Maikano did not appreciate the way coach Adel criticised him for one of the goals scored by Zambia in the first leg fixture. We were doing drills, and time again he reminded Maikano how he failed the team to defend that moment,” said a source.

“Maikano felt hard done as the coach repeated the same thing over and over again even though he saw that the player felt bad about it.

“As for Ramoraka he came with an injury and he could not continue as he wants to fully recover unlike Thatayaone Dithokwe who sacrificed himself for the nation it’s just that he opts to be fully fit before coming back to play.”

The source revealed further that coach Ambrouche is a very demanding coach and wants players to deliver at all times and sometimes players may take his message wrongly.

“I think he should balance being hard and sometimes be soft so we as players can relate to him openly because now players are a bit scared of him,” continued the source.

When contacted for comment Gaborone United Director Nicholas Zackhem said they are yet to meet with the player and get the story first hand from him.

Meanwhile Orapa United mouth piece Kabo William said they were surprised to learn of their player’s return from Zebras camp on social media, indicating that they should have been informed by the association once the player was released or when the association found out he is missing in camp to avoid conflicts between club and country in future.

The Zebras camp will continue next month, with foreign based players expected to join local ones as the nation looks to qualify for their second Africa Cup of Nations.

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Sport

DC Tours abandons Gunners takeover

22nd February 2021
Extension Gunners-Dirang Moloi

Negotiations between Lobatse based outfit Extension Gunners and transport logistic company DC Tours have collapsed frantically with the latter growing ever more frustrated and withdrew their touted P 2million investment amid fears that the club is unstable and not ready for change.

The company walked away after one single meeting with Gunners management before it was pushed away, reports claim.

DC Tours are said have grown annoyed by the manner in which Gunners management arranged and held the discussions.

The club is said to have sent their player Dirang Moloi to represent them, something that did not go well with the company high ranking authority.

Moloi is a player but also an upcoming business man who happened to be the provider of the club’s merchandise last season but sources inside Gunners management felt that, in Moloi, the club failed to calculate the amount of serious coming from DC Tours corner.

DC Tours was said to be star struck by Gunners as one of the most supported brand, but their approach to serious matters has left the travel and transport logistic company with no choice.

It was reported that DC Tours was at an advanced stage to inject start-up capital and acquire 80% of shares but their bid was heavily reliant on the Gunners management decision.

The first stage of agreement was deliberated and decided in principle over the cause of last year, although details remain sketchy even to this date. The deal was supposed to follow many years of casting empty promises by the club previous committees to bring on board a trusted investor and traverse the commercialisation route.

Although sources say it is against the club’s constitution to run Extension Gunners that is operating as a society thorough contract management deal, any other worries and loopholes were to be dispelled to leverage a spade work on amendment of the constitution.

It was to be agreed that the club‘s account was to remain operational while DC Tours was to be in charge of finances and set to give Gunners society at least one third of the investments at the end of every football season.

The deal was to be concluded before the commencement of the new season and a space was left out for other companies who may want to partner with the Peleng outfit to come on board, sources claim. Late last year, it was also rumoured that the club was negotiating with former CMB Chairman, Okaile Rapula, but that never proved to be true.

Extension Gunners finished last season in a very uncompromising situation. The club has never known peace since winning the then Coca Cola cup in 1992. After one Tariq Babitseng was voted as club Chairman, the club battled identity crisis as the committee split and factionalism took centre stage.

However, Gunners management refused to share details about the DC Tours partnership.

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