Saturday, March 2, 2024

Did the BPL Board and BFA give sponsors the middle finger?

An apocryphal anecdote depicts a heated meeting between Botswana football high command and league sponsors beMobile. The mobile service provider, eager to protect its image wanted the Premier League to stay the league games and clean up first. The defiant Botswana Football Association and The Premier League simply turned up their noses, stuck out the middle finger and decided no one was going to stop the show.

Very few know for certain what transpired behind the closed door, and the story may have picked a few embellishments along the way. BFA President, Tebogo Sebego’s recent address to the media while not disclosing exactly what transpired at the meeting, presented a more genteel version.

Although not in so many words, Sebego told sports journalists the the decisions taken by the BFA and the Botswana Premier League (BPL) Board has unmasked the objectionable nature of Botswana football to sponsors, more especially beMobile. In what may turn out to be the most embarrassing and comical situation, the BPL Board and the BFA decided to crown Mochudi Centre Chiefs beMobile Premiership champions. This was done despite pending issues relating to the docking of ten points from Township Rollers by the BPL Board, a decision which resulted with Chiefs ascending the league log summit by default (no pun intended). Since then, the BPL Board decision has been quashed by the BPL Disciplinary Committee (DC), which has determined Rollers should have been docked three points only. Perhaps sensing the impending embarrassment, league sponsors, beMobile, requested that the last league games be stayed until a resolution had been found. The request was however denied by the BPL Board following their meeting which was held on the 5th of May. At the said meeting, at least 75 percent of the BPL Board agreed that the league should continue. Following the decision, the BPL Board and the BFA met with the sponsors on the eve of the last day of the league and persuaded the sponsors that the league should continue and the winner duly crowned. 

Against the background of the unfolding circus, BFA President, Tebogo Sebego, in his address to the media, expressed regret that perhaps ‘football should have applied itself well.’ “What I believe was the wrong step which we took as football, which has now exposed us even to our sponsors, particularly beMobile, was the fact that we did not allow resolution of these issues before the final games. But we had difference of opinions on that issue. I think you are aware that the Premier League board met to discuss that issue. The sponsor had also requested that may be the last games should be held in abeyance to allow the protest issues to be resolved first. But unfortunately there was a firm belief at the BPL Board that the games should continue,” Sebego explained. He however said as the BPL Board is a structure that is tasked with running the league and is the proper structure that determines when games should be played or postponed, the games then continued. “It is where I believe we as football did not really apply ourselves to our best because had we allowed the games to be staid in abeyance, we would not be having this embarrassing situation that I see coming,” the BFA President concluded. Reached for comment, BTC communications manager, Tiro Kganele confirmed meetings were held but said as the sponsors, they could not publicly comment on confidential technical meetings between sponsors and their partners. He however said following the ‘embarrassing situation’ that has transpired ever since, ‘the BFA has publicly apologised and beMobile has accepted the apology.’ 



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