Saturday, May 18, 2024

Football league stoppage divides opinion

The Botswana Football Association (BFA) National Executive Committee’s (NEC) decision to stop the football season has triggered mixed feelings from football elders.  

Two weeks ago, the BFA NEC took a decision to declare the league finished as is and award winners and losers due to the ongoing COVID19 pandemic.  

The decision elicited differing emotions and debates with as many in support and many other against.

For Extension Gunners elder Rashid Chopdat, the decision by the BFA to stop the league is right and is a welcome evil. 

“I think the decision is right because it was based on medical situation. We have to monitor the situation first to avoid risking the health of the players and that of the nation,” he says. 

Chopdat opines that continuing with the league would be risky as teams do not have facilities to meet health requirements for a safe resumption. 

“Most of the teams in the elite league are not running professionally and it was going to be taxing on them,” he observes.

“Companies have also been donating to the COVID 19 fund and it was going to be difficult for them to assist football or sports,” he says. 

Chopdat’s sentiments are shared by another administrator and coach Sexton Kowa who opines the move to stop the league is a welcome one. 

“There is no guarantee that despite the small margin teams will outsmart each other and go on top” says Kowa.  

Kowa is however worried that the BFA leadership is only concerned about first division and premier league. 

“The decision was based entirely on top tiers of the league and not on other leagues,” he says.

Kowa goes on to say: “Regional leagues have been playing without a sponsor for the past 25 years and the association has been silent on the difficult conditions regional teams play under.” 

He says BFA could have also opted to wait because they too want to play February – November season. 

Kowa worries that while it is said COVID19 is here to stay, the BFA is not coming forth to tell the nation its plans to play football. He wondered where the P300million will come from to play football in the coming season. 

For his part, Benedict Bayani, former national Under 20 coach is of the view that ‘the leagues should have been nullified as the pandemic is an act of God.’  

“In the act of God no one should benefit. All teams must suffer the act of God hence nullification was the only option if the BFA was not willing to wait,” he opines. 

Bayani reasons that the BFA decision is erroneous and should be corrected rather than to set a bad precedence that will haunt football in future. 

“No one can convince me that the right decision was taken,” he says. “In football, a match cannot be decided by an act of nature.” 

“During a match, if a team is leading three nil and the game stops in the 85th minute because of rain, a winner is not declared,” he explains. “The game will resume again because it was act of God,” Bayani says. 

He further warns: ‘We cannot compare our football with developed countries.’ “FIFA knows that countries differ hence an option to adapt and localize everything, it be the constitution, play rules and other operations to suit local football.”

Bayani concludes that championships and relegation must be determined in the field of play not on the table.


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