Before the abrupt end of their quest to qualify for both the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and the World Cup, the Zebras, Botswana’s national soccer team, it was a common occurrence for players to hold the country to ransom, demanding their bonuses and appearance fees.
They threatened not to play if money was not forthcoming.
Such uncalled for behaviour is seen as one of the main reasons the country could not make it to the group stages of both the AFCON and the World Cup.
The game away to Madagascar is seen as the one the team threw away despite the importance it had on the team.
The Zebras ended up losing the game by a solitary goal. Before the encounter, the players threatened to boycott the game and it irked the Botswana Football Association to the extent that one of the alleged ring leaders was sidelined from the team.
The Zebras have, however, since received another major pat on the back from sponsors, Orange. At the announcement of the new marriage between the cellular network giants and the Zebras, it was widely anticipated that the match bonuses and appearance fees would be availed as was the case before.
The marketing manager of Orange, Karabo Thabiwe, made it clear that, as the sponsors, they do not want to get involved with money going into players’ pockets. He told Sunday Standard that they are leaving the whole issue to the BFA.
“Apart from the money the Zebras receive from us, there is also the one coming from the government. We just decided that the BFA would deal with the whole issue. As Orange, we are just giving a lump sum as sponsorship,” he said.
Leaving the whole issue to the BFA is seen by many as a way of reducing cases of games boycotts because the former would have complete control. The BFA would decide how much players get for the matches whether players like it or not.
Even the BFA Chief Executive Officer, Mooketsi “Tosh” Kgotlele, made it clear that they want a situation whereby what the players get is performance-based but not appearance-based. Kgotlele added that details would be availed at a latter stage.
“Currently, I cannot actually give you the figures on the amount the players are going to get and all that will be availed at a latter date. But we want a situation whereby players sweat for a national team jersey. Whatever we give them should be performance based and less on appearance fees. Obviously that would improve the performance of the team,” Kgotle said.
Orange has renewed their sponsorship for the next three years.
On the other hand, there has been concern that BFA are not doing enough to lure stronger opposition, especially during FIFA dates. Fingers have also been pointed at BFA’s slow response to requests for friendly games by some of Southern African countries. The case in point is Namibia, which went to the extent of canceling the game. Kgotlele has, however, flatly denied slow response from BFA.