Friday, October 23, 2020

BFA backed against the wall as FIFA delivers ultimatum

It became very clear that the BFA was in trouble when FIFA Senior Manager James Johnson and Development Officer for South and East Africa Ashford Mamelodi descended on Botswana. They were here to review the situation with regards to the constituency tournaments. While both Johnson and Mamelodi did not give away much about their findings when they left Gaborone, it was clear that they were not impressed with what they unearthed in Botswana. When addressing the media on May 16 at Lekidi Football Centre in Gaborone, Johnson said, “I don’t care about government politics.

As FIFA we only care about football development in the country. FIFA did not come with opinions because this matter has been on the radar. FIFA has several principles that each of the 209 members has to abide with.”

Upon receiving the report, FIFA secretary Jerome Valcke wrote to BFA warning them that if the tournaments are not run under the FIFA pyramid, then Botswana is likely to be axed from the world governing body. Part of the letter read, “We inform you that constituency tournaments must be brought under the control and supervision of the BFA as soon as possible, failing which the matter will be discussed at the FIFA associations committee on 22 September 2014. Given the serious consequences that may follow, we strongly urge you to contact the relevant authorities and organizers of the constituency tournaments as soon as possible and inform them about the above deadline and our position in this correspondence.”

Four weeks after receiving Valcke’s letter, BFA president Tebogo Sebego finally met with the press last week to discuss the matter. The association has not always made its stand clear on the matter, but reports indicate that they were left shaken by Valcke’s damning letter.

“The intention is not to counter Government’s intentions’ we only want the constituency tournament to be run under the BFA. We want to find a solution that will complement Government’s intentions,” said Sebego.

Reports also indicate that Sebego took long to disclose the contents of Valcke’s letter to the nation because he was still trying to liaise with officials at the Government enclave. But his efforts were in vain.

“Sebego tried his best to meet with the (acting) minister of Youth, Sport and Culture, Vincent Seretse, but to no avail. The idea was for both the BFA and the minister to address the media together, but that didn’t happen because the minister was always busy,” said a source.

Allegations abound that the FIFA delegation left Gaborone unimpressed because the minister was unwelcoming during the courtesy call to his office.

“There is no doubt that the FIFA delegation was frustrated. It seemed the minister did not want to listen to them. He gave them a cold shoulder. Worse, the FIFA delegation wanted the BFA executive to be present at their meeting with the minister but he refused. These are some of the things that irked the delegation,” said the source.

Efforts to get a comment from the minister, Vincent Seretse, were unsuccessful. However, his private secretary, Thobo Tlhasana, said, “The minister says that he is not in a position to discuss the matter with the media before meeting with relevant authorities. He will meet with BFA president and BNSC chairperson Solly Reikeletseng on Tuesday to discuss the way forward.”

If Botswana is axed from the governing body, BFA is likely to lose the US$ 750,000 grant it gets from FIFA. All the players who are plying their trade outside the country would be recalled and Botswana would not be able to play any game. While some authorities at the Government enclave seem to be relaxed, BFA is in a race against time as they still have to respond to FIFA within the set deadline.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper

Mochudi Center Chiefs ready for a season of change

It has been a year since Pay Your Stars (PYS) and Mochudi Center Chiefs (MCC) partnered to help the latter find financial...