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BFA’s options amid COVID-19

BFA president MacLean Letshwiti

The uncertainty surrounding football prolongs as the Botswana Football Association (BFA) strive to look through remedies available to kick-start the suspended football season.

The ever growing effects of corona virus pandemic has thrown football behind bars ,but as the government starts to uplift nationwide lockdown regulations, authorities of the game are also intent loosen the nuts for clubs to start making income again.

The association has extended the league suspension and has told different quarters that it will resume when ‘everything else is safe.’ While clubs continue to pile pressure that they are struggling to pay players, let alone make two ends meet, the association says it will make a public decision soon and map the way forward.

As things stand, they are about 10 premier league games left to complete the season. The FA cup, under the sponsorship of Orange Company, was on its quarterfinal phase, and needed at least three weeks to reach the climax.

While the association deliberates on available options, the FA cup will remain stuck at the quarterfinal stage while Jwaneng Galaxy will wait anxiously the chance to lift the title for the first time since their inception. Or it will be Township Rollers who will win their fifth successive title.

Sowa Flamengos and Nico United stand neck to neck on the Debswana First Division North race. Each team wants promotion and nothing else. So is Masitaoka of Molepolole, the new kid of block down south.

However, sources of information say plenty of conversations are taking place behind closed doors and decisions to conclude the 2019-20 seasons are looked into. It is said, BFA is basically looking at three options currently on its table. Each decision has to be informed by facts and scenarios and one is independent from the other.

The first option, BFA says, is to stop the league where it is and crown the team that occupies the first place, which is Jwaneng Galaxy. By all accounts, the association feels it is a risky and controversial option to undertake.

Countries like France have awarded log leaders, Paris Saint German (PSG), the league title and this has left Olympic Lyon with no option but to protest. Lyon believes they had a chance of catching and even leap frogging PSG to the title.

Given the sensitivity of issues surrounding the domestic game, BFA is of the view that it will not want to set the cat amongst the pigeons with the above option. The second available possibility is 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.

This therefore means the football might continue to wait until and later be stretched to the Feb- November calendar. This football season was considered also because of adverse hot conditions unfavorable to the playing conditions in Botswana.

The last possibility is to nullify all the leagues.  This was – and continues to be – the last resort. Across all the global leagues, the domestic campaign has only 10 matches left, which could, in theory, be completed in the space of five weeks.

Given that backdrop, why would anyone – ulterior motives accepted – want to get rid of the work put in over the previous seven months and pretend it never happened? It is a question BFA should asks themselves as they ponder on the future.

TOP 4 BEFORE CORONA VIRUS

TEAM PLAYED WON POINTS
Jwaneng Galaxy 20 12 41
Township Rollers 20 12 40
Orapa United 20 12 40
Security Systems 20 11 39

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Rollers salary cut stalemate

26th May 2020
Township Rollers Players

Township Rollers President Jagdish Shah remains unshakable on the club’s decision to cut players’ salaries in the wake of COVID-19 which has brought football to a standstill.

The club had proposed salaries cuts for the months of April, May and June but it appears players refused altogether to accept Rollers’ proposal. While it became apparent that players were unimpressed by the club’s position, they came up with their own proposed payments plan to which Shah out rightly turned down.

Players proposed that Shah should pay 75 percent of April salaries additional to the subsidy of the government. They also wanted the club to repeat the same model of payment for the month of May. With June, players want Shah to pay 50 percent salaries and also add government subsidy.

Government pledged to support premier league players with P2.500 for three months of April, May and June. Furthermore, players wanted the club to assist those who are not staying within the team’s premises with P1500 monthly rental allowance.

Rollers players are vigorous on the negotiating table that the team will clear out the remaining balances when the FIFA relief fund becomes active. They are steadfast on this thinking because they believe these payments for the above three months should be treated as ‘deferred payments.’

But Shah, who also doubles as the financer of the club refuses to budge. He believes the players’ proposal is without substance and lacks understanding of business surrounding football. Shah, when responding to the player’s proposal says the players seem not to take cognisant of the club’s financial capability and impact borne of COVID-19.

Sources say Shah explained that club’s financial position is in dire circumstances and will take some considerable time to push it where it used to be. He explained that this is the case because BPL grant has reduced drastically as compared to other football seasons.

He is also believed to have reasoned that the failure by the club to take part in the CAF competitions has harmed their purse and this was also worsened by declining gate takings and prize money that comes with CAF participation.

It is also clear that Shah is livid by what he see as players’ stubbornness in the face of coronavirus. Shah says the club has failed to win any cup competition thus far which means that no prize money was added into the club bank account, sources claim.

Sources further state that Shah reasoned that the club’s membership income has dwindled down as members have not yet renewed their membership because of the inconsistent performance of the team. Further, it is said, Shah argued that the sale of merchandise is at its lowest mainly because of delayed receipt of the same this season.

Of course, the financer did not miss a chance to argue that the gate takings have stopped because the league also came to an abrupt halt, sources say. Shah, who is regarded as a shrewd business man of note argued that the club’s expenses always surpass the income.

He stated clearly that he always bridge the gap with money coming from his personal savings and other business interests.  He explained that he continues to pay other expenses even though football is on hold.  He cites expenses incurred as rents for training ground, accommodation, insurance and vehicle lease which he says, remain unchanged despite the lock down.

In view of these reasons and others, Shah is said to have refused to embrace and kiss the player’s proposal. As things stand, there is a reported deadlock between players and the management.

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Systems to pay players

26th May 2020
systems

Security Systems players moved from a point of frustration to that of elation when the club decided, after many hours of consultation, to pay them without reservations. Initially, the club had wanted to cut allowances as COVID-19 threatened to rear its ugly head on the financial stability of the club.

Although it appeared as a shocking decision on the part of players who claimed that they have to be consulted, the club has made a U-turn on its initial position and will pay players full salaries at the end of this month.

This means Systems will become the sixth club to have paid players without fail since coronavirus halted sporting activities in the last weeks of March. The other clubs are Gaborone United, Orapa United, Jwaneng Galaxy, Police XI, BDF XI , Prisons XI and of course Township Rollers.

Systems’ financial flow is said to have dodged the impacts of the virus as the company’s services are deemed to be essential. The club had wanted to cut players’ allowances under the pretext that they are not getting any income, a seemingly false projection because the company has been on its toes, providing services all the time, despite the lockdown.

Security Systems is a security company founded in 1984 by Gabriel Nkgetse and Michael Reay, who together have security industry experience spanning more than 30 years. Systems players are given varied allowances ranging from P 1.5m to P 2.5m.

A private communiqué however indicate that all is well at the club. The message states that the president together with the Managing Director (MD) of the company, Nkgetse assured players that “their allowances and salaries will no longer be affected.”

The players were told that “the initial thinking was not meant to punish and frustrate them as footballers but to make sure that there is sustenance in the team as well as in their welfare.”

Systems is however, one club capable of winning the titles. In the first round within nine games into the current season, the club sat at the top of the pile, having played two of the big sides, Orapa United and Township Rollers.

Only one team had scored more and no side had conceded fewer than Systems. That time a question was asked especially under coach Chico Nare: Was Botswana football finally ready to recognise Nare as an elite-level coach? In fact, why has not it done so already?

The answer was not straightforward, no matter 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 soundbite lacking in self-awareness – to make you look silly.

Now while driving Systems, pundits still ask the question whether he will last longer at the top, or he will soon fall down. His demonstrations this season speak volumes about winning a bigger and better trophy this season. Can he deliver or time will tell? But all in all Systems are demonstrating that they are a well administered team.

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FIFA,FIFPRO discuss women’s football

26th May 2020
Women's football players

FIFA and FIFPRO have agreed to collaborate to accelerate the development of professional women’s football and mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

During a 90-minute video-conference call, FIFPRO shared its recently published Raising Our Game report, which extensively charts recent progress in the women’s game, as demonstrated at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019, and makes recommendations to achieve further growth by bolstering the conditions of female players.

Raising Our Game seeks a sustainable path for female players all over the world to benefit from improved standards, allowing them to reach their full potential and play at a competitive level for their club or national team.

As the international representative of professional footballers, FIFPRO is working towards these improvements for female players together with its network of national player unions and the FIFPRO Global Player Council.

During the call, FIFA discussed the impact of the coronavirus on the women’s game, and how the organisation is working with stakeholders to help provide support to the football industry.

Building on the momentum and unprecedented interest from last summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, FIFA is currently investing in a range of programmes to grow and develop the women’s game on and off the pitch.

As part of the USD 1 billion that will be invested by FIFA into women’s football between 2019 and 2022, these programmes will aim to develop a range of areas in women’s football, including competitions, capacity-building, governance and leadership, professionalisation and technical development.

Recognising the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the women’s game, FIFA is also currently working on providing further assistance to women’s football as part of an ongoing assessment taking place into the financial impact of the pandemic on the wider football community.

Both FIFA and FIFPRO have agreed to work together to support and strengthen the women’s game during this challenging period and beyond, with ongoing discussions planned to cover many topics, including player conditions, competitions and the women’s international match calendar.

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