Sunday, January 24, 2021

Deeply divided Botswana football

It is official; the man who was rejected and despised four years ago is now amongst the happiest people on earth.

David Fani won the tightly contested Botswana Football Association presidential race and dirty tactics were the order of the day as candidates lured voters to the two opposing camps.
It was difficult to tell who the clear favourite was going to be as both parties were confident of victory.

One thing that was clear at the Maharaja Conference Center where the proceedings were held last week was that Botswana football is deeply divided.
Why there are so many divisions in local soccer remains a question whose answer the nation is looking for.

When Fani was voted out in 2004, there were not so many divisions because many people wanted drastic changes made in local football, especially using the issue of Institutional and community teams. Institutional teams were seen as having an unfair advantage over the popular community teams. The then BFA leadership led by Fani would later be punished by being voted out of office for failing to clearly deal with the issue.

Some people feel that Makgalemele’s administration was good and were, therefore, surprised by his defeat. Even the margin of 53-45 by which Fani defeated Makgalemele says a lot and showed how deep the divisions are in local football.
It was, however, clear from the onset at the Assembly meeting that Makgalemele’s administration was going to face difficult questions. Renowned soccer officials, such as Fobby Radipotsane, Father Maphogo and Maokaneng Bontshetse, clearly showed they wanted Makgalemele out. Surprisingly, they are the very same people that led Makgalemele’s campaign four years ago.

Radipotsane even said that ousted Vice President (Technical), Matshediso ‘Sexton’ Kowa, failed to effectively deal with serious issues and added that maybe is because he is ageing prompting Kowa to hit back saying his head is full of wisdom.
Maphogo, on the other hand, wanted an accounting of the money won by Botswana’s national Under 23 team in China last year.

It was alleged that P70 000 was unaccounted for but it turned out the money was, in fact, paid as tax in China.

With Fani having swiftly revenged, there is doubt as to whether he will work effectively without the disruption from the pro-Makgalemele group, some of whose members being seen as having a huge influence in the local soccer. In such instances acts of sabotage would be common regardless of success on the pitch.

Whether Fani will work smoothly or will encounter problems from other quarters remains to be seen.
Sports analyst, Tshimologo Boitumelo, told Sunday Standard that football is a difficult and complex sport to run. He said it depends on how the defeated individuals would react, adding that if the bitter defeated officials really have the interests of football at heart, they should serve football in different capacities.

“Almost all those people who hold positions at the Botswana Football Association have their clubs. They should then go back there and continue to contribute to developing local football,” he said.
Boitumelo, however, said it is a common phenomenon in football to see deep divisions. He said even in developed countries like Europe and even South Africa there are always divisions. He added that the new leaders should always guard against hangers-on who are always around them for their own interests.
On the other hand, BFA president Fani continues to spread unity after Saturday elections.

On Thursday at the workshop for the Premier League teams, Fani urged those who are involved with football to give him all the necessary support for the benefit of the sport. He said without their support, he would not achieve the desired results and, as such, football would suffer.

Fani’s administration re-enters football administration with a multimillion sponsorship of the Premier League. The sponsorship, which was secured by Makgalemele’s administration, is expected to be announced sometime this week.
The figure is reported to be around P65 million for a three year period, but the association remains tight lipped about the sponsor.

One local newspaper has since revealed that the sponsorship comes from an American company, but there are reports that there can be surprises.

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