When soccer giants Township Rollers took the Botswana Football Association (BFA) to court, there were murmurs in soccer corridors that the club was going to expose dirty dealings at the association.
The two parties have since smoked a peace pipe and settled the matter out of court. This means any possible penalty against Rollers was also put aside.
The settlement, however, raised eyebrows. The out of court settlement between the two parties is being questioned whether it only served the interest of the two parties or of the football fraternity at large. Some people see it as setting a bad precedent. This is so because other teams that might have a complaint against the BFA might, in future, also go to court and use the Rollers case as a defence.
Mochudi Centre Chiefs Manager, Lebogang Seboni, blames the BFA for the whole issue. He said the issue did not concern Rollers alone but local football at large. He also called on the BFA to apologise to the nation saying failure to do so would be a bad precedent.
“It is a known fact that football matters are not supposed to go to court. If a team does that the consequences are terrible. Rollers went to the High Court twice. This then means they knew something bad, something at the BFA,” said Seboni. “Obviously that was going to be exposed had the case proceeded. The BFA must just come out in the open and apologise to all the teams and supporters; just to say they made a terribly mistake that nearly messed up football. There is nothing wrong with doing that. That way people would understand. If they cannot apologise I can tell you they would be setting a bad precedent. Most teams would always find their way to court and say no steps were taken against Rollers. They would do so still knowing that it is against the FIFA rules.”
Seboni also said local football needs to be cleaned up, because there were always blunders after blunders. He warned that failure to do so would not improve football in any way. He also stressed that some people in the BFA are aligned to certain teams and decisions that are always taken favour their respective teams.
Former Gaborone United official Keemenao Tsie echoed Seboni’s sentiments. He said the decision was indeed a bad precedent to the other teams. He said all charges against Rollers had been withdrawn while the law was there for everyone to see.
“This is a very wrong message sent to other teams. This shows that Rollers knew something many people did not know. It paid off for them because BFA had to succumb to their pressure, but it is not doing our football any good,” he said.
The Rollers saga started after they refused to honour their semi-final replay against BDF XI last month following 24-hour notification from the BFA. Rollers argued that it was against FIFA rules to order a game in 24 hours instead of 48. In the first game Rollers had won 3-0 and the game was nullified on grounds that a BDF XI striker had been un-procedurally barred from playing by the BFA.
BDF XI was then given a free passage to the finals where Notwane defeated them. Rollers tried to halt the finals by going to court but to little avail.
Rollers ended up going to court for the second time demanding a chance to play in the finals and for the BFA not to pursue any case against them.
Rollers were faced with a possible lengthy expulsion from football activities or even a hefty fine. BFA also reversed its decision and let Rollers play in next year’s Coca Cola Cup.