Since the world’s largest union for professional footballers – the F├®d├®ration Internationale des Associations de Footballeurs Professionnels (FIFPro), released its Employment Report almost two years ago, little has changed for Botswana footballers as the working conditions in the game such as lack of securities still persist.
In what was a damning report, FIFPro discovered that 41 percent of players in the Botswana Premier League (BPL) often went unpaid.
Of the thirteen countries surveyed, only Ghana, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe had scored better.
The report also highlighted that 36 percent of professional football players in the BPL were playing without contracts.
In this category, Botswana was ranked second worst in the survey behind DRC, which at 96 percent had recorded the highest number of players playing without contracts.
Two years down the line, not much seems to have changed in the BPL with a number of players still going unpaid.
Just this season alone, a number of players resorted to boycotting training and sometimes official games as they sought to coerce their clubs to pay them their dues.
Among clubs that have suffered player boycotts due to unpaid dues are Mochudi Centre Chiefs, Gaborone United, Extension Gunners and Gilport Lions, just to mention but a few.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one football administrator said most of the players who often went unpaid came from the clubs owned by societies.
“The only teams that seem to have not been affected are the institutional teams and may be a couple of other teams. These will include your BDF XI, Police XI, teams from mining towns in the likes of Orapa United and Jwaneng Galaxy as well as the likes of Township Rollers and perhaps Security Systems,” the source revealed.
With clubs failing to get sponsors or investors, the situation is said to have been aggravated by the reduction of grants from the Botswana Premier League (BPL).
Where the grants from the BPL stood at P50 000 a month in the 2015/16 season, the grants were halved to P25 000 in the 2017/18 season.
This also coincided with the drop in match day gate taking revenues, which plummeted as the number of spectators dwindled.
Reached for comment, Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB) Secretary General Kgosana Masaseng however there is notable change, more especially in matters relating to players’ contracts.
“Since the implementation of club licensing, we have witnessed a lot of improvement when it comes to player contracts. Most of the players in the league have contracts now,” Masaseng said.
On late payments, the FUB Secretary General said while they have heard of players boycotting games due to unpaid dues, his office had not received complaints.
“The procedure is that where there are complaints, they are reported to the Dispute Resolution Chamber at the Botswana Football Association. Once they are there, that is when we as the FUB can step in to help players. So far, we have not had such,” said Masaseng.
“Yes, we have heard rumours of players boycotting training or matches due to unpaid dues but we could not intervene. The only time we could intervene would be if such incidents were reported to our offices,” he said.
Meanwhile, the FUB Secretary General said the union will soon engage the BFA to negotiate for the association to adopt new statutes agreed by FIFPro and FIFA aimed at improving players’ welfare. He said it is imperative that the BFA adopt the new statutes to protect players.