BFA feud: A victor-less battle

The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tshekedi Khama and the Botswana Football Association (BFA) might be, unwittingly, preparing a rod for the country’s back.

Since assuming office early this year, Khama has made it clear that he is unfazed by BFA’s leadership style.

In an interview with this publication a few days into his new ministry, the minister said he would engage the soccer motherbody to find a way forward.

Amongst the nagging issues were both the termination of the All Kasi contract in favour of Umbro and the perceived sidelining of local coaches.

It is unclear if the two parties met, but in a story carried elsewhere in today’s edition, the BFA has indicated its willingness to iron out whatever concerns with the minister.

Khama has reportedly pointed out a number of concerning governance issues, to the extent that he saw it fit to seek role clarity from the world soccer mother body, FIFA.

The minister wanted to know BFA’s obligations, but FIFA has not responded to two of his inquiries, probably in a sign of rebuff.

The minister’s move is a dangerous manoeuvre as FIFA is unambiguous on government interference in football matters.

To Khama, he argues, it is intervention as the government pours in millions into football, through BFA, and therefore the ministry must play an oversight function.

It might be a fair argument, but the arrangement falls foul of FIFA’s laws and the minister should tread with caution.

FIFA does not hesitate to punish transgressing associations through lengthy suspensions, and it is not far-fetched to highlight that Khama’s moves might be an open invitation for the same rod he is preparing, to land on Botswana’s back.

While the BFA and Khama feud, it will ultimately be the players who will bear the brunt of the rod, if FIFA was to suspend the country.

Suspension will mean Botswana teams cannot take part in international competitions until the situation is rectified.

But why should Khama and BFA travel the treacherous road in the first place? It is completely unnecessary as, from the evidence presented by the BFA, the matter has not been exhausted internally, to warranty FIFA involvement.

We believe the internal dispute resolution mechanism should be entirely exhausted before outside interference is sought (and only one that does not violate FIFA statutes).

At times egos come in the way of dialogue, but this is not about individuals nor power, but the country.

Thus, we implore the minister and the BFA to dialogue, and avoid a battle where, clearly there won’t be a victor, but countless losers.


Today’s thought 

“Sports are such a great teacher. I think of everything they’ve taught me: camaraderie, humility, how to resolve differences.” 

– Kobe Bryant

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