Whichever way one looks at it, local football is in a bad state. One can choose to ignore or turn a blind eye to it but its chaotic state won’t be restored by miraculous intervention. The Botswana Premier League (BPL) is headless and degenerating into a comatose state from claims of financial irregularities and colluding to confirmed use of defaulters while the Botswana Football Association (BFA) at political and administrative level still require a strong hand of control and restoration of order. It is understandable why the minister wanted to intervene. From his threat then to now, nothing appears to have changed for the better. BPL Board’s chairperson and his deputy are deposed while the CEO and his personal assistant are yet to return to work despite having served the employer with a letter of demand for restoration of his rights. This week Walter Kgabung and his deputy Solomon Mantswe attempted through a press conference to clear their names but did not go all the way to seek a court injunction against those who pushed them out. Their failure to take the matter to court denied the greater public the only reliable platform of getting to know the full details of what led to their dismissal. It would also have helped them to not only clear their names but set the bar on the appropriateness of the conduct they are accused of.
It is claimed that they allowed Township Rollers investor Jagdish Shah to loan money to other teams that his team is competing against – a move seen as compromising the competitiveness of the league. The use BPL letterhead in the transaction is allegedly what angered the other teams. While these are deposed, nothing better has come of the league. The leading team – Township Rollers - has faced a barrage of accusations of using defaulters with the league’s disciplinary committee finally finding all teams guilty of exceeding the player registration limit. However, when the same team was taken to the BFA Disciplinary Committee they were found guilty of using a defaulter in a number of league games and competitions, in this case the Mascom Top 8. It is this last ruling that has created even more chaos and uncertainty in the league. Having used a defaulter, it means Rollers have fraudulently qualified to play in the Mascom Top 8 final and are equally so at the top of league log table. What it meant is that Rollers should have been immediately dropped from the cup final and replaced by a legitimate team. Mochudi Centre Chiefs which had been at the forefront of protesting Rollers’ use of defaulters had sought to go to Court to have Rollers removed from the finals but dropped their bid at the last minute.
This now means that a team that fraudulently made it to the finals is most likely to win a P1.2m prize or settle for an equally lucrative second prize. Chiefs’ decision to avoid getting punished themselves for taking football matter to court has not in any way saved the unfolding disgrace of the game. It shows the inefficiency of player registration that reared its ugly head last year when Sankoyo Bush Bucks faced the same predicament of having used a defaulter. Rollers for this stand to lose only three points and two goals and could easily still go all the way to win the league. It is important that Rollers officials get their act together to avoid this multiple fault-lines – from buying favour from other teams to using defaulters. The BFA should scale up operations and ensure a major clean-up in the game. It has to restore order in the league and even in its own secretariat where officials are prone to fighting among themselves. For our beautiful game to inspire confidence, the stench of chaos currently emanating from Lekidi Centre must be extinguished.