Players’ welfare is expected to be top priority on Monday morning when the Botswana Football Association (BFA) meets up with Football Union Botswana (FUB) and Botswana Premier League (BPL).
The three stakeholders meeting is called to find solutions for both players and teams, more especially with regards to players’ salaries.
As the novel coronavirus continues to wreak havoc, the meeting comes late as players in Botswana’s semiprofessional teams are expected to bear much of the brunt.
Already, signs are emerging that players may be paid cut salaries or expect not to get paid at all as teams’ struggle to make ends meet with their largest revenue stream, the gate takings, having dried out.
While many expected only the so-called struggling teams to feel the pain, it has since emerged that even the so-called affluent teams are struggling.
Township Rollers spokesperson, Bafana Pheto has admitted that as any other team, they are struggling to make ends meet.
He went on to add that as the issue affected all teams, they have decided to tackle the issue collectively as opposed to individually.
Pheto said as a collective, teams can have a strong case when we approach the BFA, premier league and Footballers’ Union Botswana (FUB).
He said though Rollers has sponsors, the money they get from gate-takings supplemented what they have and enabled them to pay players monthly without fail.
“If Rollers is suffering yet it had some sponsors imagine the situation on those teams that do not have sponsors,” exclaimed Pheto.
For his part, Molepolole City Stars owner Somerset Gobuiwang admitted that his team is also feeling the pinch.
Gobuiwang however said he could not comment further on whether or how players will be paid as ‘the league indefinitely suspended.’
Asked about the players’ welfare, a cagey Gobuiwang said at the moment, all focus should be on the safety of the players.
“The focus for everyone should be on how to survive coronavirus,” he said. “Anything else will be resolved when this crisis is over,” he added.
Meanwhile, FUB has confirmed that various teams have already approached it calling for help with the configuration of players’ salaries for the month as they are struggling.
“A few individual teams have met with us as the players’ representatives asking for a meeting to make arrangements for players’ salaries,” the FUB Onalethata Tshekiso said during an interview president said.
He however said as the teams had not come at different times on a similar matter that affected all teams, they felt it would have not been the right move to address the matter on individual basis.
The FUB president went on to add that they also felt they needed the input of the BFA as the custodian of local football, hence a stakeholders’ meeting.
Tshekiso said that as players’ representatives, FUB had anticipated such and had been calling for a stakeholders’ meeting to come up with solutions.
“We had expected the meeting to be held today (Friday) but the BFA would have not been available to attend. We then agreed on meeting this coming Monday when the BFA will be represented,” Tshekiso said.
“Hopefully, when we come out of the meeting on Monday, we will have found solutions that are agreeable for all the parties concerned,” he said.
For his part, BFA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mfolo Mfolo said while the issue of players’ salaries is a matter between team as employers and players as employees, it is of concern to the association.
He said as such, the association will be part of the process of finding solutions between the two parties.
“We have a meeting with both the FUB as the representative of the employees and the BPL as employers on Monday morning,” he said.
Mfolo said as the BFA are the custodians of football and the teams are its members through the BPL, they only seek solutions which will benefit and not prejudice any party.
Jimmy George, football commentator said the current situation is catastrophic to sport in general. “my advice is for sport leaders, not only football, they must make a case to government for sport to have a portion in the fund that the nation is contributing towards” advised George.
He observed that for premier league teams to rely on gate-takings to pay players’ salaries is not sustainable and team have to look for sustainable partnerships to augment the little money teams get from gate-takings.
“teams and premier league must find serious sponsors that will grow the league and sustain teams. Currently the situation is worse more so that there won’t be prize money at the end of the season. Players are sweating for nothing in
He cautioned the football players and other athletes to live like professionals and be exemplary to other people. “they must stay in homes, eat well and avoid peer pressure that might lead them to encountering danger” concluded George.