Though senior officials in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture appeared sworn to secrecy about the status of the Constituency League, impeccable sources are insisting that the league has been shifted to the Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC). Nothing has been disclosed as to how they will work with the Botswana Football Association (BFA) to ensure it remains legitimate, by FIFA standards at least. OTHUSITSE TLHOBOGANG reports
With the March 16, 2015 deadline given to Botswana Football Association by FIFA for the association to have rectified the constituency tournament issue fast approaching, there are questions whether this will be achieved or not. Sport commentators are of the feeling that with time running out a little is being done to address this issue.
This therefore has raised fears that a hefty fine or suspension is looming for Botswana. To add salt to the wound, of recent there have been reports that the constituency tournament has now been transferred from the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture (MYSC) to the administration of Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC).
According to reports, funds have been reserved for the BNYC to administer the league. It is claimed that the running of the tournament is being transferred to BNYC since the youth organisation has structures across the country and most of their constituents are the ones playing in the league.
However when contacted for comment BNYC Executive Director Benjamin Raletsatsi denied any knowledge of this. Raletsatsi said that this is news to him as he did not know anything of this regard. All he could say was, “it is the first time I hear about this from you”.
The Director of Sport and Recreation, Falcon Sedimo, also said he does not know of such reports. “I am just hearing them from you now,” said the director who directed this publication to the ministry’s public relations office. He said the public Relations Office is the one responsible for controlling any information that goes out of the ministry. “They will tell you or direct you to the relevant officials if there is anything,” added Sedimo.
However, MYSC Public Relations officer Lorraine Gumbalume indicated that she is in no position to divulge any information at the moment because nothing of this regard has reached their office. “Right now it is just news to me because I have never heard anything of this sort, not even from the management,” she explained.
For the better half of last year the constituency tournament has been at the centre of public discourse with FIFA saying its current setup defies their statutes. According FIFA statues Article 10 all their members should be in control of all footballing activities in their country without interference from the government.
This is not the case with the constituency tournament as BFA does not have a stake in its running. As a result the football mother body recommended that the administration of the constituency tournament be given to BFA.
Sports analysts feel if the reports that the constituency league is being moved to BNYC are anything to go by, then it is a final nail that could cripple football locally. Even though it is not clear how the tournament will be administered, analysts are of a view that this will be the exact opposite of what FIFA wants.
“The thing is I do not know how it will be administered but if BFA does not have a share in this then this will be digging our own grave deeper,” said one of the analysts who did not want to be identified. He said that the country will be playing with fire as this will give FIFA an impression that BFA has failed to rectify the constituency league issue.
FIFA is very strict when it comes to issues of compliance and government interference in football matters. A number of countries have been slapped with suspensions after failing to put their houses in order to comply with FIFA statues and regulations.
There is a general feeling among the footballing fraternity that BFA is dragging its feet in resolving this matter. Football lovers feel that this may seriously endanger the future of football in Botswana should FIFA suspend BFA from all its international activities.
Efforts to get hold of BFA president Tebogo Sebego failed as his phones ran unanswered.
Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) chairperson was also not available to comment.