Botswana Football Association (BFA) National Executive Committee (NEC) last week took an affirmative resolution to conclude the 2019 /2020 football season, ultimately crowning Jwaneng Galaxy as BTC Champions.
Masitaoka and Sua Flamingos were subsequently promoted to the elite league after they were declared Debswana First Division South and North Champions respectively. Meanwhile Molepolole City Stars, Miscellaneous and TAFIC are relegated to the lower division.
The move by the BFA to declare the 2019/2020 season followed a recommendation from BFA Medical committee, which had been mandated to prepare the report regarding the possibility of return of action for 2019/2020 football season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Medical Committee is made up of 12 members under the stewardship of Lone Bogwasi as the Chairperson, Mpho Bogopa as the Vice Chairperson, Kaelo Kgosiyang as the Secretary, the current BFA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mfolo Mfolo, Tsoletso Magang representing BFA NEC (also a medical committee overseer) and Boago Gabontshiwe from Women Football League amongst the others.
According to the BFA Medical Committee report, the most ideal time to return is when a vaccine has been discovered or proven effective treatment, however the Medical Committee is quite aware of the fact that return to football may not be possible to achieve anytime soon as it may take several months or years to achieve.
However according to the report returning may be possible with a series of tests. “Without these, a safe return can be possible with a series COVID -19 testing hence we advise that we exercise patience in observing the disease evolution and in dealing with the matter bearing in mind that we have limited testing capacity nationally to allow a compulsory regular pre-match COVID-19 testing for all teams,” reads the report.
The medical committee recommended that upon the resumption of the football activity, each team should have a trained medical person (should always be present at team trainings/games) thus, the said personnel should be a doctor or physiotherapist who is understanding of the country’s limitations, the ideal person should have a basic first aid certificate and have undertook the proposed BFA COVID-19 infection control training.
The report further suggests that serial COVID-19 testing done weekly is mandatory to aid the daily screening in ensuring a safe participation of the athletes.
“If the testing is not financially feasible and BFA NEC rules to resume activity; based on the low local transmission rate of COVID-19 Pre Competition Medical Assessment (PCMA) and rely on daily screening which is only 60 percent effective,” the committee recommends.
Upon the compliance of the teams during the training sessions, each team in the initial two weeks shall divide training seasons into groups of two or more which will train in different sessions to minimize contact and ensure social distancing.
“Daily screening of players before training. Screening should be done by the medic responsible for the team who undergone the BFA COVID-19 infection control training and the person designated to conduct the screening should wear protective clothing (face mask, plastic apron/ coat and gloves),” indicates the BFA medical report.
According to some of the recommendations by the committee, during pre-match the use of dressing rooms were to be prohibited hence a case by case basis scenario will be employed for the use of ablutions inside the dressing room.
The report further indicate that teams will use designated stands as an alternative to dressing rooms. During match day, the committee suggested that the games be played behind closed doors without supporters until further notice.
“Disinfection of the stadium is to be done on corridors, rails, stands that will be used by teams and attendants, team benches, goal post and any area that might be in near contact with match attendants. This should be done 3-4 hours prior to and after every match while fumigation is to be done after facility has been in contact with a COVID -19 infected individual,” notes the report.
Meanwhile the report further indicate that, failure to comply, no team shall be allowed to participate in the league. In addition, the committee recommended that league games be played in tournament style, with a maximum of two matches in one stadium per match and there should be at least 2-3 hours in between to allow for disinfection before other teams can use the facility.
Nikola rejects Galaxy for Rollers
Nikola Kavazovic has rejected a 2 year contract extension at BTC premiership champions Jwaneng Galaxy. The Serbian born gaffer is said to be on his way to joining his former team, Township Rollers. This was laid bare by Jwaneng Galaxy this week after confirming that they have amicably parted ways with Nikola. The club has failed to agree on contract terms with Nikola after the winning coach raised his pay demands.
“Nikola was just being smart on them and he didn’t want to leave on a bad note. He just raised his demands and they couldn’t agree on that as they felt nothing should change because Galaxy management felt he can’t be given credit for winning the league,” said a close source to the developments.
With Galaxy now out of the picture, everything seems poised for a Nikola- Rollers reunion now. When contacted for comment, his agent, Bakang Moipone said the coach has shown interest to continue working in Botswana and will consider any good offer. Moipone declined to confirm or deny that Nikola has been offered a contract with Rollers.
Nikola left Rollers after an impressive first 2017/2018 season where he guided the Blue Army to winning double; the Mascom Top 8 and also the BTC Premiership. The gaffer also made history as he guided Mapalastina to reach the group stages of the CAF Champions league where they locked horns with African giants such as Esperance de Tunis and Al Ahly. Nikola then left the team after a reported fall out with club President Jag dish Shah over pay rise. He then headed to South Africa where his career was dealt a major blow as he relegated Free State Stars to the first division and his contract was eventually terminated.
A close source at the club revealed that the club decided to offer Nikola a two year contract as they couldn’t risk bringing someone outside the country and also because he left an impressive record at the club and will want\ him to revive them. “ Nikola is a good coach apart from other small issues he has done brilliantly when he was here so he has been offered a contract and we expect him to sign it as he has also shown interest to return with his Serbian assistant coach,” said the source.
TAFIC formally objects BFA decree
As highly anticipated, Francistown shrinking giants, TAFIC has sent a communication to the table of Botswana Football Association (BFA), ardently opposing and objecting the curtailment of the season. The club wrote to the BFA National Executive Committee arguing that the decision to stop the league, with 10 games to spare, was unlawful and ought to be reversed as soon as possible.
The club, through its belligerent and often unassuming Chairman, Carlos Sebina has sent a two paged letter, outlining why it was precisely wrong to stop the league as it is, award log leaders and relegate others while his team was still fighting for survival. The Francistown based outfit seemed committed to the substantive matter and is eager to exhaust all legal routes. The club argues that they are prejudiced by the NEC’s 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 the time when the decision was taken, TAFIC was lying on the 13th position with only 18 points accumulated.
Furthermore, the club argues that “whilst we accept that COVID 19 has placed football in an abnormal situation and that health considerations have to remain paramount, we conversely contend that fair play requires that teams be crowned or relegated on merit. Hence we argue that the correct position is to allow not only the reasonable and acceptable percentage of games to have been played but rather the team be allowed to compete on the field of play as and when the situation becomes tenable for the league to resume.”
Although the decision did not affect TAFIC alone, two other clubs, Molepolole City Stars and Miscellaneous are also at the receiving ends albeit their silence thus far. From what this publication could gather, TAFIC is 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 was through the voiding of the 2019/20 campaign in its entirety.
The club states that “force majeure does not place the stoppage of the league at the doorstep of any party. To the contrary where there is force majeure, the priority is to facilitate for the reinstatement of the status quo and this means resumption of the league and not a complete abandonment of the same. To this end, we hold the view that the NEC application of force majeure principle was erroneous and contrary to fair play.”
TAFIC prays that the decision be reversed within 7 days or the matter will be alternatively taken to the Disciplinary Committee for adjudication. The club wants BFA to re-engage all stake holders and seek guidance on the way forward. TAFIC says the questionnaire sent by the association to affiliates was insufficient consultation because it did not seek reasoned opinion based on the BFA and FIFA statutes. BFA Chief Executive Officer, Mfolo Mfolo was not available for comment at the time of going for print.
Four clubs receive sport subsidies
The Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture development (MYSC) has taken a detailed and systematic approach in transacting subsidies to premier league teams. The process, as slow as it is, has brought diverging views as four premier league teams receive their part.
WeekendSport learned that Jwaneng Galaxy, Orapa United, Miscellaneous of Serowe together with Notwane have all received players stipends after three months of waiting. This therefore means the quartet adds to Gaborone United to be the only teams that have been assisted. Sources say the Sport Ministry is assisting teams in batches and it is obvious that the process will take longer than anticipated. Each premier league club was asked to submit 25 players; each is to receive P7.500 for the months of April, May and June.
As of last week, clubs were complaining that the subventions are not forth coming yet the situation on the ground is beyond repair. Some clubs say the sport sector form is difficult to complete. Others say the Ministry has returned them to finalize the paper documents and by the look of things what they want is not easy to give out.
The Ministry needs players/teams to provide proof of wage bill income before the arrival of COVID -19. They also want proof of signed player contracts from clubs. Furthermore clubs are expected to forward proof of compliance with the registrar of societies. Teams are also expected to provide copies of staff payroll for the months of January, February and March.
Moreover, the ministry wants affidavits indicating that no other relief assistance has been received by clubs. It is why clubs like Township Rollers and Security Systems will not get a dime from the Sport Ministry account because they have applied for the separate BURS subsidy. Clubs want the Ministry to quicken their steps because players are no longer cooperating let alone coping.
Between March 22 and April 14, FIFPRO and affiliated national player associations surveyed 1,602 professional footballers in countries that had implemented drastic measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus such as mass home-confinement. 1,134 male players, with a mean age of 26, and 468 female players, with a mean age of 23, took part in the survey.
The percentage of players reporting symptoms was significantly higher among those worried about their future in the football industry, the survey found. In a separate survey of 307 players, with a similar mean age, in December and January – before most football competitions were suspended – 11 percent of the female players and six percent of the male players reported symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of depression. It is not clear what will happen after the government stops its assistance as football is still under curfew. Clubs are not making profit as long as the status quo remains unchanged.