Former Botswana Football Association (BFA), Chief Executive Officer, Keith Masters has lost a legal battle against WeekendPost in a defamation case that dragged for some months at the High Court.
His application was dismissed with costs by the High Court recently. WeekendPost was represented by Bayford and Associates on the matter.
The former BFA boss sued this publication early last year for defamation claiming 1 million pula in damages following publication of an article that pitted him against some of his detractors at the BFA.
Masters had engaged David’s law firm after WeekendSport carried an article addressing allegations in relation to his work ethic and inferred office abuse – insinuations which he had vehemently denied when contacted by this publication.
The High Court dismissed Masters’ claims after he failed to demonstrate how the newspaper had defamed him. His attorneys were also unsuccessful in explaining to the court how they arrived at the 1 million pula mark as the right amount of compensation for the client’s name.
The court said that the article in question was not defamatory since the former BFA boss was largely quoted and engaged throughout the story. The ruling offers protection to sports writers, a move likely to be welcomed by media lawyers and journalists since it protect investigation in sports journalism.
Masters had brought the action to court alleging that this publication had damaged his reputation in that the article suggested he [Masters]’s commitment to his post was insincere and he had allowed favouritism to control his thinking. Moreover, Masters and his team believed that a series of articles printed by this publication were fully sponsored to deliberately damage his name.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion and that is only right but I find it almost laughable that a person who may not be too happy with me decides not to engage the person they are not happy with but instead to 'run' to the press. That person in my opinion is nothing more than a pathetic coward and not worthy of consideration.
Botswana is a small country and it is, I believe, fairly well known who these few people are who seem to 'wallow' in negativity and, for reasons best know to themselves, do their best to place obstacles and thwart progress. As mentioned we believe we know who they are and they will…,” Masters had said in his papers.
WeekendPost argued on account of reasonableness – that upon a tip off regarding tender awarding by Masters’ office – the newspaper had a duty to investigate and interview the ex CEO.
Masters was head hunted to turn the domestic game to professionalism. As the first Briton CEO, a lot was expected from him, but he faced challenges when it came to controlling the often stubborn national executive committee of the BFA.
He had inherited a BFA house rocked by politics and factionalism, but even with his credentials, he, like seven of his predecessors, could not see the end of his BFA contract.
The Manchester United defender will now focus on his club career having made 93 caps for France, appearing at three world cups and on European championship. The Les Bleus won the World cup in 2018 and Raphael Varane started all but one of France’s matches in Qatar as they finished as runners up to Argentina
With many being of the view that the state of football in Botswana has deteriorated significantly as it is no longer appealing to the business community, this was a good week for the football community. The Botswana Football Association (BFA) leadership under the stewardship of MacLean Letshwiti secured sponsorship for a combined value of P19. 3 million for the FA Cup competition and the First Division league – both South and North.