Thursday, November 30, 2023

Botswana not ready to host AFCON – Rathedi

University of Botswana’s Director of Sports Raj Rathedi believes the country is not ready to host mega events such as the continental football tournament, the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

Engaging Billy Chiepe who had asked him on his Facebook account ‘to state the disadvantages Botswana would experience, if ever she hosted the Afcon,’ Rathedi said hosting such will leave the country in huge debts.

“Obviously, because of its nature, this one would easily become a mega event for our country, I am not too sure where those with the thought of hosting such a huge event are coming from,” he opined. 

Having done a study assignment on the impact of hosting mega sporting events for his Masters’ Degree in Sports Science (Sports and Recreation Management), Rathedi said his thoughts and reaction on the matter are ‘largely influenced and/or shaped by the findings.’

“Hosting of a mega sporting event comes with very good advantages which include, whoever succeeds in bringing this popular tournament would have created a legacy for himself/herself and the country, great investment on infrastructure or facilities, creation of job opportunities, improved economy as more tourists do come visit and so on and so on,” he highlighted.

Rathedi however noted that most of the time, the disadvantages for hosting such outweigh the advantages. He highlighted that most of the cities which have hosted mega events are still ‘deep in red many years after they hosted’ and this could be even worse for Botswana considering her current infrastructure.

“Let me now indicate this right from the word go, in my assignment, most of the events had been hosted by cities which had everything more than Botswana would ever dream of having. Those cities had great economies, wonderful infrastructure/facilities, great tourist sites, great technical manpower, great teams, great fan base etc. At the time of my study, this was of course before the London Olympics/Paralympics, only Los Angeles had been able to ‘stand tall’, following the hosting of their event. The rest of the cities had struggled badly to recover, if at all they did,” he noted.

Rathedi said for Botswana to host the Afcon, billions of Pula’s will be needed. Unfortunately for us, expectation will be on the Botswana Government to bankroll it in almost everything. And as far as I am concerned, our government, could never handle this,” he observed. 

“This is not a simple championship, it is the AFCON, where most of the teams are made up of world class super stars, and you bring them here, you want them to experience world class infrastructure/facilities,” he added.

“Basically you need world class roads, airports, stadia, hotels and so on, in various areas/cities/towns and not just Gaborone or Francistown. Now where does Botswana get to this standard in such a short space of time, especially now that we are struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic?,” asked Rathedi rhetorically. 

He said if the Government decided to go ahead with this almost impossible dream, it would mean billions of Pula being borrowed, especially that just before the start of such an event, the original budget would have sky rocketed. 

“After the tournament, a short-term thing for that matter, the money has to be paid back. Where does the money come from? All of a sudden, the state-of-the-art infrastructure would have become white elephants,” he observed.

Rathedi added that one cost that people may not be aware of is the one from organising several events of a similar nature to that of Afcon, just for the organising committee/sub committees to gain some experience/feel. He said the country would also have to spend ‘more money in trying to make the National Soccer Team a team that could compete.’

“Here are some of other problems that the country would likely experience; high Security and crime risk, as well as other ills for the country, corruption due to high profile business tendering, unfair treatment of small businesses, bad publicity due to organisational failures, unfinished or poorly built infrastructure, and so on,” opined Rathedi. 

At the end of it all, Rathedi said ‘the country would find itself in huge debts.’ “Let me tell you a secret emotional hurt I experienced, not many years ago. I watched with sadness (on tv), as one of my favourite sporting venues in some country, where I actually took pictures at during one of my sporting days, being auctioned – piece by piece, to recover some of the costs of hosting a certain mega event by the concerned city. I was in tears. I surely would never wish this to happen to my government!” he concluded.


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