Botswana football has seemingly learnt hard lessons from the recent controversy surrounding the pardoning of five clubs which were relegated for failing club licensing.
At the end of August, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) club licensing appeals body had turned down appeals from the clubs. The five clubs were Extension Gunners, Masitaoka, Mogoditshane Fighters, Morupule Wanderers and the newly promoted Eleven Angels.
When reached for comment by this publication at the time, BFA chief executive officer (CEO) Mfolo Mfolo said the decision was final. However, in an unprecedented turn of events, the BFA Emergency Committee (EC) took a decision to pardon the clubs.
The decision polarised football. Those who sympathised with the clubs felt that the BFA EC decision was a welcome one. They felt clubs could not be so harshly penalized for what they believed were minor failures.
For other however, the decision by the BFA EC was wrong. They felt it set a bad precedent. More than anything, they believed the association was overreaching and interfering with the duties of its judicial structures.
This latter view was expressed by the BFA president Maclean Letshwiti during the Botswana Football League (BFL) Annual General Meeting (AGM) this past weekend. Addressing the issue of club licensing, the association president said ‘it is non-negotiable’.
He said the association will no longer compromise when it comes to clubs failing club licensing. In what may be seen as an admission of interfering in judicial matters, Letshwiti said ‘the BFA could no longer compromise its judicial bodies.’
The BFA president then announced that to avoid similar incidents in future, the club licensing system is being automated. This, according to him, ‘will take all club licensing decisions away from the BFA and BFL.’
“Club licensing will be automated from next season. Therefore, you must buckle up because club licensing will have very little to do with BFA or the BFL. It is you who must do all the work and failure to be at speed with technology will close you out,” he informed BFL shareholders.
Under the new system, clubs will log everything into a computerised club licensing system. The system, according to the BFA president, will close when the time to complete club licensing elapses.
“This is probably the future yardstick of whether you want to play with the big boys or not. We will not compromise the standards and the professional bodies who adjudicate on your compliance. They have demonstrated to all that they will remain as impartial and neutral as possible, and will judge without fear or favor,” he warned.