Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Botswana football heading for clash with FIFA

Botswana football definitely looks set to be heading for disaster, thanks to the current administration of President Ian Khama.

Since ascending to the presidency of Botswana in 2008, President Khama introduced many controversial initiatives that look set to harass the nation long after Khama has left State House.
The most popular sport, football, did not escape the hand of President Khama. He introduced the constituency league, disregarding the international laws of the game.

The constituency league has even attracted curiosity from the world football governing body, FIFA, because it is running parallel to the competitions of the recognized soccer body, the Botswana Football Association (BFA).

FIFA considers that as political interference in football matters and does not allow it at all.
Khama remains unmoved despite repeated calls for him to either abandon the constituency league or reform it so that it is run by the recognized football body.

Khama has even gone on record, saying FIFA is out of line because the government is putting too much money into football and FIFA never says anything about that.

However, the danger that Botswana football faces is that the stubbornness of the Khama administration might result in the suspension of the Botswana national teams from all international football activities.

Comments made by Sports Minister, Shaw Kgathi, this past week do not help the matter at all.
Kgathi went on record saying the constituency league is here to stay and it will, in turn, help nurture future national team players. He also said not all football activities can be under the BFA.

What is astonishing is that Kgathi is a former Director of Sports and Recreation and understands the laws of the game.

When The Sunday Standard approached him for comment, the president of the BFA, David Fani, did not want to say much about Kgathi’s comments. “I have so far received so many calls from people around Botswana expressing their disappointment with Kgathi’s comments but I did not listen to the radio nor watch the news on television where the comments were allegedly made,” he said.

Kgathi’s comments also come at a time when the BFA is holding discussions with the government over the controversial constituency league.

Fani admitted that they are still addressing the issue through the Department of Sports and Recreation and the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture that is headed by Khathi.
It looks like the only solution will be for Botswana to be suspended and, maybe, a hard lesson can be learned.

Already, FIFA has written two warning letters to the BFA.
Botswana’s senior national team is on the brink of making history by qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations but that might come to nothing because of President Khama and Minister Kgathi’s intransigency.

Botswana is leading their Group K with 10 points and has yet to lose a match after beating powerhouses like Tunisia and Togo.


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