On Thursday, the Minister of Sports Tumiso Rakgare made public the country’s intent to go it all alone and host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals.
Though all those close to the bid had kept quiet on the way forward following Namibia’s 11th hour pullout from the joint bid, the secret was long out. Botswana was ready to walk the remaining journey alone.
Rakgare made it known ‘Botswana is in the bid to win it.’ He went on to add that ‘there will be no better time than now’ to bid to host the coveted continental showpiece. And the expenditure so far shows intent.
So far, Botswana has spent P1.336 million on the facilities audit. In the absence of Namibia who were to pay 40 percent of the expenses as co-host, the country has now committed P65.656 million on compiling a bid book.
This represents a significant layout by the country on the bid and shows political will. Ironically, the self-same politics may derail the bid. When the official confirmation was announced, local football custodians, Botswana Football Association (BFA) were nowhere to be seen.
The only trace of their involvement was the association’s backdrop which stood side by side with that of the Ministry of Sports (MYSC) behind the top table. All the BFA top brass had conveniently been unavailable for the meeting.
BFA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mfolo Mfolo said the entire BFA National Executive Committee (NEC) had gone for a UEFA Assist retreat in South Africa. The same was uttered by Rakgare when asked why the BFA was a no show.
Be as it may, the fact that no football person, not even a lowly employee of the association or anyone close to football was present at the announcement should raise eyebrows. It leaves doubt as to the degree of BFA’s involvement in the bid.
As the local football custodians, BFA should be leading the bid with the government closely behind them. Only Letshwiti holds the key to lobbying his counterparts at the Confederation of African Football (CAF) executive as well as fellow presidents of African football federations to support Botswana’s bid. At the same time, it is his fellow BFA NEC members who can do the same with their fellow African counterparts.
Rakgare however does not believe the BFA should lead the bid nor does he believe the association is being sidelined. Rather, he says the government as the one availing resources should lead the bid, not the football association. “The bid is led by the government assisted by the technical people and the BFA. This bid is not for MYSC or the BFA. It is for the country,” Rakgare explained.
He went on to add that the BFA is represented in the process by Mfolo as its CEO. “When decisions are taken, both Mfolo as the CEO and (MacLean) Letshwiti as the BFA are privy to. Above that, Ashford Mamelodi as the bid chairman has an arrangement with the BFA president to continuously keep him on the loop,” he retorted.
The same was also uttered by the Permanent Secretary (PS) at MYSC Kitso Kemoeng and Mamelodi as the bid chairman. “We as the Bid Committee have engaged with the BFA NEC in its entirety to update and take suggestions from them in terms of what their views are. The Bid Committee understands that when the bid is done, its role will be finished. Then will be the time for the Local Organising Committee where the BFA will be much involved. They will take the lead assisted by the Ministry,” Mamelodi expounded.
“We cannot talk to CAF except through the BFA. We cannot submit anything to CAF except through the BFA. Any contact and or submission that has been made to this point was made though the BFA,” MYSC PS added.