Saturday, November 28, 2020

Calls for Khama to back down from football widen

Calls for President Ian Khama to abandon his Constituency League to prevent international football’s governing body, FIFA, sanctions are widening.

Unless Khama directs otherwise, the controversial league is scheduled to kick-off across the country today (Sunday).

The latest to join the fray are political parties that are against President Khama inviting unnecessary conflict with FIFA.

Recently, FIFA sent three stern warning letters to the Botswana Football Association (BFA), an indication that if the government’s intervention does not stop, Botswana football is heading for misery.

FIFA argues that no football competitions should run parallel to existing FIFA recognised structures in the country.

The media and the public have been leading the outcry, pleading with Khama not to go against FIFA’s wishes but to little avail.

The constituency league, which was introduced to Batswana by the president, is apparently parallel to FIFA rules and regulations.

The latest organization to join the spectacle is the Botswana Congress Party Youth League (BCPYL), whose stand is that President Khama should leave football alone and let organized bodies like the BFA deal with it.

The BCPYL said that it feared that the efforts of the Botswana national team, Zebras, which is doing well for the first time in history, will come to naught due to the president’s interference in football.

The national team has, for the first time, started the qualification for 2012 Africa Cup of Nations on a high note, going unbeaten in three matches. All this might be thrown away if Khama does not heed FIFA’s warning.

“In fact, what we are saying is that the president should leave all sporting codes alone; the government is doing its part by funding the BFA. If they want to do more, then they can support already existing structures like youth programmes, such as “re ba bona ha” and others,” said BCPYL president, Lotty Manyapetsa.

He added that it believed that the warning from FIFA shows that money spent on the constituency league is money wasted. They said that they believed the money could also be used on other sports avenues where it is needed the most.

Manyapetsa gave the example of the referees’ welfare in some regional leagues in the country as a problem because they can go for months without any payment.

BCPYL said the president should also consider factors that hinder sports development in Botswana, adding that the government should consider providing medical aid and insurance to all sports persons representing Botswana, in case of injuries or fatalities. 

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