Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Gov’t wary of ‘shady’ deals as local teams strive to turn pro

Government is awake to the possibility of “black money” infiltrating into local football.

This comes as many private investors shove and jostle in an attempt to try their luck in the ever growing lucrative football business.

While football is still in its formative years, the sport, which is now being played in semi professional setup, has enjoyed some growth as it strives to go fully professional.

The interest of investors and sponsors in local football has therefore not gone unnoticed to the country’s legislature.

As such, the issue was brought up in parliament when the Member of Parliament (MP) for Gaborone North Haskins Nkaigwa, who asked the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture if there was any monitoring of sponsors and investors coming into the league.

While embracing and welcoming this development, the Gaborone North MP expressed skepticism about whether measures have been put in place to ensure local football clubs are not sponsored with ”black money”.

Responding to the question, the Assistant Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Kefentse Mzwinila this week, assured Parliament that there was monitoring in place.

“The Minister responsible for Sport and the Commissioner General (BURS) are always keeping their eyes wide open to ensure that everything is above board … that there is no black money coming into the picture,” the Assistant Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture assured parliament.

Where the two bodies may miss something, Mzwinila said there are other agencies such as the Financial Intelligence Agency and other law enforcement agencies to tackle the anticipated problem.
Meanwhile, the Assistant minister said the government is doing all possible to encourage investment in local football.

He said through the Income Tax Act, private investors are motivated in the country  to support sport in general, not only football, by providing tax rebates geared at promoting and taking all existing sporting codes to greater heights.

“Football in Botswana is semi-professional. The journey to professionalism is ongoing but it is a long process. Most Premier League and First Division teams have players and coaches on paid contracts which is one of the requirements for professionalism. 
“Club licensing as required by the Confederation of African Football is ongoing,” Mzwinila said, adding that “teams are also expected to set up club offices with full time secretariat as well as development structures”.
The main challenges is the financial constraints for the teams due to limited funding or sponsorship for football, he concluded when answering questions at the ongoing Parliamentary Special Session this week.
Nkaigwa was worried about incentives in place to encourage private investment in the development of local football.

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