Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Lost in translation or interpretation?

In the wake of the coming into effect of the revised Botswana Football Association (BFA) constitution, the Botswana Premier League (BPL) has accused the BFA of stripping it off its powers.

The association however has denied this, saying it has not usurped the powers of the Botswana Premier League (BPL) board as per the narrative making rounds.

BFA’s position was championed by its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mfolo Mfolo during an interview with Sunday Standard.

According to some BPL board members, the BFA through its revised constitution had taken away all decision-making powers of the BPL board to consolidate its iron grip on every facet of local football.

They point out that where the old constitution stated the roles of the BPL Board and explicitly stated its powers, the new BFA constitution, which is dated 01 December 2019, does not detail such.

In the old constitution, the BPL matters are discussed under Article 12.5, with article 12.5.2 detailing the BPL Board formation, composition and office terms for its executive. The Articles on the BPL extend to section 12.5.10 and cover almost every other aspect on its powers.

 However, in the new constitution, the BPL is covered in Article 17.5.1 to 17.5.3 under National Football League and only covers its composition and how it will be governed.   

“If you look at the newly revised BFA constitution, you will find that the role of the BPL Board has not been defined. The constitution gives the BFA National Executive Committee (NEC) all decision-making powers on matters related to the league,” a source revealed.

the source went on to further point out that as per the newly revised constitution, every decision pertaining to the number of teams in the BPL and First Division will be made by the BFA National Executive Committee (NEC).

“In the new constitution, Article 17.5.1 to 17.5.3 is the only article that establishes and deals with the BPL. The BPL Board has been removed, the powers and duties removed,” the source said.

“As you can see in Articles 17.5.2 and 17.5.3, the BFA NEC makes the regulations governing the BPL. In short, the BPL is now fully regulated by the BFA NEC,” he explained.

The source went on to allege that looking at the revised BFA constitution, the BPL Board has been relegated to a mere ceremonial role.

“As it is, it makes no sense for us as the BPL Board to meet and take decisions as whatever we may decide will have to be approved by the BFA NEC who will have a final say,” he added.

Reached for clarification, the BFA through its CEO said while the BFA is regulating the BPL and the national league, it has not taken away its powers.

“At the moment, we are under transition from the old constitution to the new one,” Mfolo explained. “During this time, the BFA is in control while allowing the transition to complete,” he said.

“It is worth remembering that when we decided to review the BFA constitution, our worry was that the old constitution was too operational,” the BFA CEO said. “It read more like an operational manual than a constitution.”

He said as it is, the BFA is at the moment busy at work drafting an operational manual for the National Football League, which includes the BFA. Mfolo said the manual would detail everything regarding the leagues.

“Our BFA legal and compliance office has been tasked with drafting the said manual. Once the draft manual has been completed, the BFA will then send it to the BPL Board for corrections and approval,” he said.

The BFA CEO added that the association is expecting the manual to be completed and operational before the start of the upcoming 2020/21 season.

On allegations that the BFA had now taken all matters relating to sponsorships of the BPL, Mfolo said the BPL Board is not barred from seeking sponsors.

“If the BPL Board can find a sponsor, the BFA will not get in the way. It (BFA) however will have to sign the sponsorship deal on behalf of the BPL. Nothing has changed in this regard. Even in the past, the BFA was a signatory in all the BPL sponsorship agreements,” said Mfolo.

Still on the BPL, Mfolo said the association was actively looking at the request of autonomy from the BPL. “They (BPL) have written us a letter requesting autonomy and we are looking into it. We have already written a letter to FIFA seeking advice on whether the BPL can be granted autonomy more especially when looking at the state of our football.”

“The response from FIFA will inform us as to whether we should grant the BPL autonomy and hopefully also guide us on the models we should consider when giving them such,” he concluded.

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Sunday Standard July 12 – 18

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of July 12 - 18, 2020.