A delegation from FIFA, the world football governing body, has left heads rolling after concluding what some call ‘early findings’ that Botswana Football Association (BFA) secretariat has not misused FIFA funds contrary to widespread reports and criticism. This comes to the fore against the much peddled P8.8 million which disappeared within the coffers of the association.
However, FIFA delegation led by David Fani, a former BFA boss himself, finds out that the funds have been used to projects they were not initially meant for. The delegation cited money for covid-19 which was meant to cushion clubs from distress due to lack of playing and was used to pay BFA employees. However, the findings by FIFA are said to have left the world of football divided on the way forward. They are those who are skeptical about the manner in which investigations were carried out but are afraid to voice out for fear of being victimized or being relieved of their duties.
While FIFA is adamant that the funds were misallocated, BFA finds itself at pains to answer a difficult question where some staff members at the finance department were sacked. More complicating the already strained situation is the decision to suspend the Chief Executive Officer, Goabaone Taylor and threatening to expel her while she had an over-riding duty to prioritize BFA funds when corona had ravaged the administration and operational wing of the association.
It might be that the National Executive Committee was building a case for her and would now want to look as if they were saving face when they sidelined her. “During the four day visit, the delegation carried out its assessment and interviewed BFA staff and former employees. At the end of the investigation, the delegation briefed the NEC on initial findings. The delegation informed the NEC that it found no evidence of misappropriation or embezzlement of funds,” reads part of BFA statement.
BFA has claimed that its brand has been “deeply tarnished” and that its “ability to use its resources for positive actions throughout the country, and to meet its mission of supporting and enhancing the game of football” has been “impaired” as a consequence of the actions of the football officials and some sports administrators under their watch. “We are not out of the woods yet, we had made good strides in earning FIFA’s trust; we will wait to see what the remedial action will be. However, we will be tightening our gabs and ensuring that we regain the financial confidence we worked so hard for,” BFA president Maclean Letshwiti said.
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.
Some disgruntled Botswana Football League (BFL) shareholders are planning to petition the BFL board led by Gaborone United director and chief financier Nicolas Zackhem and his treasurer Jagdish Shah. Furthermore, they want to challenge the Botswana football Association (BFA) leadership over the deteriorating status of football in the country.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) is poised to benefit from FIFA’s forward development programme. The Association will receive over P80 million to be used during the course of the next four years, as the world football governing body is strengthens its commitment to building a stronger foundation and the growth of football.
The Forward 3.0 funds â€“ to be accessed by all 54 CAF members for the next four years have seen an increase of USD 2 million compared to Forward 2.0 cycle and Forward 1.0 cycle when the programme was launched.
According to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, the third cycle of the programme will be launched this month and it will dedicate more financial resources than before to developing football nations as there is an overall increase of approximately 30% compared to Forward 2.0.
â€śIt is vital that we are now strengthening our commitment to building a stronger foundation for the growth of football,â€ť Infantino noted.
The 62 page report by FIFA-Forward-Development-Programme-Forward-3-0-regulations also reveals that for travel and equipment, each member association, subject to compliance with the regulations, will receive an additional USD 1 million to cover the cost of travel and accommodation for their national teams. It further states that the remaining funds may be used to cover the cost of travel and accommodation for domestic competitions organized by the member associations.
â€śA contribution of up to USD 200,000 for the four-year cycle (2023-2026) to cover the cost of any football equipment related to the training of players and organization of matches (e.g. full kits for the national teams, balls, mini goals, bibs, substitution boards and refereesâ€™ communication systems) for those member associations that are identified as needing the most assistance,â€ť the report indicated.
FIFA President, Infantino and his team said the member association is identified as needing the most assistance, for the purpose of the contributions, where their annual revenues (excluding Forward Programme funds as well as funds from any other FIFA programme/ initiative) do not exceed USD 4 million as the figure shall be reflected in the latest annual statutory audit report submitted to the FIFA general secretariat within six months after the closing of the relevant financial year.
Nevertheless, the contributions for travel will be released in four equal installments of USD 250,000 each in January every year, whilst those for equipment will be released in four equal installments of USD 50,000 each in January every year provided that the member association has fulfilled the conditions.
For the specific projects â€“ in the case of Botswana and Namibia â€“ there is an ambition to host the AFCON 2027 and if the joint bid succeed, the two nations will need to build new stadium to meet the requirements of CAF as the Bid technical committee has alluded before; therefore the two associations could make an appeal for extra funds to FIFA.
The report further says where a member association uses funds allocated for specific projects to improve or build new football infrastructure for its direct benefit or for the benefit of another entity (e.g. regional associations or clubs), the member association shall also provide, as part of the supporting documents, the FIFA general secretariat with the relevant national land registry certificate or extract confirming that the member association or the other entity is the owner of the land or the agreements confirming the donation, transfer or other form of provision to, or use of land by the association.
When contacted for comment, local sports analyst, Jimmy George said; â€śOurs is more a lack of vision, than money to finance programs. Regrettably when you lack vision not even USD 8 million can bail you out. Its pity the funds might be used to pay for the past projects that have yielded very little success.â€ť