BDF XI faces CAF suspension
Mascom Top 8 champions, BDF XI are facing a possible three year suspension from CAF competitions. This possibility arises from a decision to withdraw from the Confederations Cup, citing lack of financial support.
Unless the club can work tirelessly around the clock to secure enough funds, their dream of representing the country in the competitions is slowly becoming a pie in the sky.
WeekendSport has established that the club has since forwarded a communiqué to Botswana Football Association (BFA) notifying them about the situation at hand. “Yes, we have notified the Association about the need to pull out, but it is not that we have given up, we are still waiting to see how things will turn out, maybe something will come out,” BDF XI spokesperson, Peo Keatlholetswe said.
The club, which is pitted against Young Africans of Tanzania, points a finger of blame on CAF for announcing additional requirements on competing teams, on the eleventh hour. The team says it was taken aback by CAF requirements that were announced in early January this year, when they had taken note of competitions requirements late in December last year. “We believe CAF have also informed us very late and looking at what we have, we saw it little to help us compete in their competition,” Keatlholetswe stressed.
According to CAF requirements, BDF is expected to pay CAF appointed referees as the host team. Moreover, they are required to book for the visiting team at a 5 star hotel where expenses are to be incurred in the name of the club; this treatment is to be extended to high ranking CAF officials who will be assigned for the game.
To further pile the misery, are the costs of honouring return leg of the match up with Tanzanian team, with the club they are expected to pay in the region of P14 000 in airfares, for each of their 25 players.
BDF XI qualified for the competition after winning a fiercely contested battle against Township Rollers. The club, which changed coaches late last year, is seen as a ‘spoilt brat’ in some quarters and this move to shun the competition, is sure to attract a back lash from the continental football mother body. Observers believe the team has a main sponsor in the national security organ, Botswana Defence Force, and their mooted move should not be allowed to see the light of the day.
The BFA, which is in the process of informing CAF, is believed to be caught in a tight corner as there is no monetary assistance it can offer to the club. As a result, there is still delirium on either side of BDF XI situation. Should they proceed and pull out, CAF will fine them close to P50 000 as a minimum charge in the preliminary stages, and even ban them from the competition.
Article 13 of the CAF regulation stipulates that clubs that withdraw from the competition, will taste such penalties. “Withdrawals declared before the start of the competition and until the 1/8 final round inclusive, shall entail a fine of 1500 dollars in addition to losing the engagement fees.
”Apart from the financial sanctions, every club withdrawing from the competition after the establishment of the fixtures, will be forbidden from participating in all CAF inter-clubs competitions for three years following its withdrawal.”
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AFRICA’S RECOVERY: Sports as game changer
The year 2022 witnessed unprecedented phenomena. Several Africans- Gotytom Gebreslase, Sharon Lokedi, Victor Kiplangat, Tamarit Tola and many others- swept the World’s marathons records.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting control measures implemented in several countries, led to many high-level sports competitions being cancelled or shelved, the Dakar 2022 Youth Olympic Games was moved to 2026.
Founder and Executive Chairman, African Sports and Creative Institute, Will Mabiakop, says the inability to hold traditional and amateur sports events have had a serious effect on public health overall, including mental health, sparking a revolution whereby athletes began to talk more openly about stress, mental overload and performance anxiety.
“Africa is home to the fastest growing economies before the crisis, no longer on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). COVID-19 deepened interdependence between SDGs, making them harder to achieve, especially SDG 10 (reducing inequality) and SDG 5 (gender equality_ as the pandemic had a disproportionate impact on poorer countries, and heavier burdens (such as care work) fell to women.”
Mabiakop stresses that as policymakers contemplate actions to speed up recovery and build resilience, they must argue that sports and creative businesses should play a central feature in this effort.
“The sports economy worldwide is estimated at 5% of GDP, but only 0.5% in Africa. If exploited, Africa’s sports and creative industries can offer policymakers innovative solutions. Especially, as regards job creation, and providing employment to the 15 million people entering the job market annually.”
HOW CAN THE INDUSTRY DO THIS?
By leveraging the two-for-one concept: past studies shown that a 1% growth in the economy delivers a 2% job increment in this sector (these ratios are calculated using data from 48 African countries and adjusted to the reality of the sports economy in Africa by the authors). There are between 30 and 50 job types, in sports and creative industries, respectively. These jobs do not fade away with the first major shock.
Mabiakop indicated that policymakers can use these industries to tackle multiple crises- jobs, poverty, and climate risks. Sports diplomacy- defined as communication, representation and negotiation in or through the prism of sports- has proven effective in building inclusive and cohesive societies. Moreover, sports and the creative industry can support better mental health and well-being, both important for productivity.
“Policymakers can also be true to the game by leveraging culture and tradition to celebrate identity and reap commercial value in sports, textiles and jewelry. Creative sectors allow deeper connection with culture, are not easily copied and provide great economic potential.”
He said supporting grassroots sports has powerful distributional effects. “Fortunately, technology has made reaching wide audiences easier, generating higher rates of success when talent is discovered.”
However, Mabiakop held that potential pitfalls must be highlighted. “First avoid build it and they will come policies with infrastructures denuded from the rest of the ecosystem. Like the many sports stadiums left largely unused.”
“Policymakers must remain mindful of how these sectors move the needle in human capital development. Also, align the requisite public policies needed for progress from grassroots participation to professional sports, and even to international sporting events. They should also support investment instruments to render these sectors performant.”