Botswana government’s position to extend lockdown until May 23rd has certainly left football nearing cross-roads.
Therefore, Botswana Football Association’s response to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) letter pivots on the fact that their hands are tied in mapping the way forward as far as the determination of the 2019-2020 league season is concerned.
CAF gave each member state a deadline of May 5 to have shown their clear intentions about their respective leagues. BFA says they are sorry they cannot meet the CAF deadline until certain regulations are uplifted. As the world reels from the coronavirus pandemic, all football activities on the continent have been put on halt and domestic leagues are suspended in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
In a letter issued to all 54 federations, the continental football governing body said they expect a reply by May 5, in order to plan for continental club competitions next season.
“In view of the current circumstances, we would like to inquire about the current situation of your leagues and national cup, as well as the strategies you intend to apply to finalize those competitions be it through completion or annulment,” said CAF.
The Botswana Premier League (BPL) was suspended indefinitely with a maximum of 10 games to go and the BFA has not decided on whether to complete the season or scrap it. It is understood that BFA intends to complete the league although the return date has not been set and no meeting has taken place between BFA and clubs to discuss football’s fate.
However, the association says they will take any decision to resume football when they deem it ‘necessary’ and based on advice from the relevant public Health Authorities. Football leagues around the world, including the French Ligue 1 and the Dutch Eredivisie have already been cancelled and African leagues now have one week to communicate their plans to CAF.
BFA side-lines TAFIC, City
Francistown giants TAFIC alongside Molepolole City Stars are not part of the program as Botswana Football Association (BFA) orientates and fine tunes premier league clubs on importance of football commercialization – WeekendSport has learnt.
The two clubs are on the way to First Division league following the announcement by the National Executive Committee to end the league season because of severe impacts of COVID-19 in football.
Although having vowed to fight for their survival, by exhausting all available legal routes, the duo are out of equation and their slots are filled by Masitaoka of Molepolole and Sowa United.
The hardnosed stance adopted by the association comes to the fore after the two clubs expressed their displeasure for relegating when they thought they had ample time to fight for their survival.
The commercialization drive as spearheaded by Ashford Mamelodi began in earnest last week with Gaborone United. Township Rollers became the second club to be engaged with. Prisons XI, BDF XI and Police XI have all received the guidelines towards transformation and all are happy for what the future holds.However, both TAFIC and Molepolole City Stars are determined to fight for their cause with or without transformation engagements.
TAFIC has therefore given BFA 7 days to have attended their letter of complaint or face legal actions. The club argues that they are prejudiced by the NEC decision and objects the legality and fairness of the said resolution.
“The league season is less than 70% complete and effectively 10 games of the requisite 30 are still to be played. In that regard, all the teams have 30 points at stake to be played in order to determine the log standing,” the club’s objections read in part.
At a time when the decision was taken, TAFIC was lying in the 13th position with only 18 points accumulated.City also made their grievances known and has told the association that they will be joining forces with TAFIC to fight for football justice.
But when reached for comment, City Chairman Somerset Gobuiwang refused to comment saying he is afraid to talk with the media owing to the warning released by BFA. He says he will talk only after elections.
From what this publication could gather, both TAFIC and City are preparing to challenge the decision on two counts, one the lawfulness behind declaring a season over without all 30 match days being completed, and secondly, if this was lawful, then the only way to fairly decide club classification would be through the voiding of the 2019/20 campaign in its entirety.
Candidates unhappy with delay
The anticipation is enormous as the deadline to publish candidates who will stand for Botswana Football Association (BFA) posts has long passed.
The elections committee is without answers after failing to circulate names before the June 30th deadline. Rather, the committee went on to ask for additional information from candidates, something that they did not request during applications.
Candidates have accused the elections committee of playing delaying tactics with hidden political agendas. The elections committee has this week through their Vice Chairperson, Ntlogelang Modise requested candidates to bring forth affidavits confirming that they are active in football activities.
The affidavits should be accompanied by a letter of appointment or minutes and also a sworn statement from the structure being represented by the candidate. This has irked some candidates as they claim that the association is outdoing itself by trying to meet the set FIFA requirements of integrity checks.
When reached for comment, Tebogo Sebego who is contesting for BFA Presidency said it would have been better had they been informed well in time to submit everything to avoid last minute scramble.
“It is easier for BFA Ex-co and some big clubs who keep records like Notwane to submit such documents but for those from smaller teams it is going to be difficult to provide the needed information. The best thing is to always advice people about requirements way before elections not some knee jerk stuff,” said Sebego.
Another presidential candidate, Ookeditse Malesu, also cried foul. Malesu complained that the delay may hamper their plans as they cannot actively campaign until vetting is completed.
“It is a draw back as we were not told to submit those documents and now there is no clear deadline on the submission. I mean even members of parliament do not go through such vetting. This only favours the current regime as they can go around campaigning, but anyway we hope the process will be completed on time,” said Malesu.
For her part, Itsholeng Disang-who will be contesting for the first time for the BFA women’s representative- questioned the motive behind the need to provide such documents when some have been serving football for a long period and BFA has their information and records.
“I mean honestly, do I have to submit that thing when I have been active in the structures, but again, why didn’t they ask for them in the first place so we could have prepared them?” Disang rhetorically asked.BFA elections committee Chairperson, Moemedi Letina denied any ulterior-motive behind the need to provide affidavits.
“Protocol has to be followed, as the elections committee we just requested candidates to indeed prove that they are active as they claim and remember that these are new standards. We are not yet sure when the exercise will be completed, but before AGM date, everything will be done with,” explained Letina.
All the while, BFA Chief Executive Officer, Mfolo Mfolo rubbished reports that the AGM is being moved to Maun. He confirmed that preparations are on-going as they continue to engage the Ministry of Health to adhere to COVID-19 protocols.
Dingake’s sticky wicket with BFA
Martin Dingake, the Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) finds himself in difficult situations with the football federation leadership following a series of judgments he pronounced, many of them leaving the association dissatisfied.
As early as last week, Dingake presided over a case in which BFA was pitted against members of the First Division North committee. The seven committee members were suspended by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the association on allegations of office abuse and inability to account for funds.
The case, as per the protocol and legal understanding of the BFA constitution, was handed to Dingake to investigate and later make a ruling with his committee.However, the association’s rank and file members complain that Dingake took his time and sat on the matter until it became rather too late to act. It became a case of ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ for the suspended committee.
However, when Dingake finally presided over the matter and passed judgment, BFA was not only left with an egg on the face, but also disappointed that the Chairman sat alone, without the accord and input of his committee to pass judgment-who now ask questions about his integrity and further casts aspersions about his future at Lekidi Football Center.
The association is therefore said to be in the thought process to dismiss him but this can only happen if the BFA General Assembly takes the affirmative answer. All the while, the association appealed the matter and the plea came out in their favour that Dingake’s judgment be reversed for fresh investigation and ruling.
“The Chairman erred in hearing and determining a dispute between the BFA and the BFA officials when he no jurisdiction to do so,” lawyers representing BFA argued.While the impending sacking of the Chairman is expected to divide the football opinion, the association is advised to tread carefully not to undermine and erode the confidence of its independent structures.
When reached for clarity, Dingake simply laughed off the matter. “Those are news to me and to that extent, I am sceptical to answer to rumour mongering. All those who make such suggestions or entertain such thoughts are certainly not familiar with the processes,” Dingake answered.
Dingake was appointed Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee by the leadership of the former BFA boss, Tebogo Sebego. Although he had a reported fall-out with Sebego at the time, emotions were never heightened to this degree.
However, some within the association feel that it will be unnecessary to chase away a man whose expertise and dependability is second to none. To some, Dingake’s judgment shows that BFA standing committees are independent and this is necessary for the democratic principles of the game.