Botswana Premier League (BPL) teams were been given up to Friday (April 8, 2016) to comply with regulation 2.3 of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) Pay rules and regulations which declares that all teams should have only the stipulated 25 players in their registers. This follows the recent judgment in the matter between Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Townships Rollers in which it was revealed all 16 BPL clubs had registered more than 25 players contrary to the said regulation.
The BFA’s National Executive Committee met on April 6, 2016 to deliberate on the saga that hit football. The NEC meeting came after the Minister of Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture Thapelo Olopeng exerted pressure on football administrators to find solutions to their problems before he intervenes. Following the Wednesday meeting, the NEC acting in accordance with the regulation 29.3 of the play rule and resolved that this regulation be stayed and/or suspended. According to this regulation, the NEC may suspend the application of any of the provisions of the play rules and regulations for such a period as it shall be deemed necessary in the interests of the game of football.
When giving out the judgment two weeks back, BFA Disciplinary Committee chairperson Busang Manewe explained that the situation has the potential of crippling the football altogether as all clubs are contravening play rules and regulations. April 8, 2016 was set to be the deadline for all clubs affiliated to BFA to regularise and comply with regulation 2.3. “All clubs affiliated to BFA are therefore urged to deregister any excess players so that they could comply,” read the statement. It went onto emphasise that any team not complying shall be deemed in default. The NEC also ruled that all protests filed as a result of non-compliance with regulation 2.3 should be cancelled and those already before the BFA judicial bodies shall not be proceeded with. This is seen to be a move by BFA to protect the face of the game of football in Botswana. The decision follows a meeting which was convened by Olopeng who demanded answers on the current situation in local football.
Football Union of Botswana (FUB) however is in dispute with this move, saying BFA’s decision will severely prejudice their members who face the risk of being de-registered as a result of an administrative lapse from BPL secretariat. FUB Secretary General Kgosana Masaseng said players are being thrown into the deep end while they are in fact innocent. “We have reason to believe that this treatment of our members is designed to damage the player’s standing in the eyes of future potential employers and the football followers. We believe that such an action stands to destroy the relationship of mutual trust and confidence which is essential to any employment relationship as it breaches the player’s right to work and clubs’ obligation to act in good faith,” said Masaseng.
FUB believes that this treatment would have a profound impact on the players physically and psychologically and is identical to bullying and harassment. Masaseng revealed that they have since written to the BPL to express their concerns regarding the matter and are looking forward to proper intervention. He pointed out that the instances of this practice of exclusion and isolation of players in the league has no place in local football. Meanwhile, the local footballing body is mum on the issue of the recalling of the BPL’s Chairperson and his Vice as well as the suspension of the Chief Executive Officer and his Personal Assistant. Minister Olopeng, however, is reported to be seeking to get to the bottom of the matter. Olopeng was quoted in the media saying he will not leave the matter lying down as he will intervene if things are not done well. The Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) chairperson Solly Reikeletseng is hopeful that a solution to the current challenges bedevilling football will be found sooner than later.