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Foreign players in limbo after relief fund snub

KABELO BORANABI
Homesick: Matsabu said his mind is back home in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
This week, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare announced government relief for sports, but foreign players were left out.

Under the relief scheme, players in the Premier League will each get P2,500 while those in the First Division Leagues are to pocket P1,500 each.

Rakgare said the relief fund does not include foreign players, with clubs tasked with their welfare.

The move left just over 20 foreign players in the elite league in a difficult state. The majority of Premier League teams are already battling to pay salaries and pinned their hopes on the government relief fund.

 Township Rollers’ full back, Kamohelo Matsabu wants to return home in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. At his club, there is a stalemate between management and players over taking a 50% salary cut. The South African cuts a frustrated figure, but does not have a problem with the exclusion of foreign players from the relief fund.

 “About being excluded from government funds, I do not have any problem with that, all I can say is now I just want to go home. I am frustrated about everything I really want to go home. They (Rollers) have bought food for us foreigners, but for me what it is paining is that I am eating this side but I do not know gore my family back home ba ja eng,” Matsabu said.

“To be honest it is not easy and no one

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said it was going to be easy. But at least I’m surviving. My only worry is my family back home because I cannot do anything to help them during this lockdown.

I wish I was with them at the moment at least to struggle with them than being this far (away).”  Football Union of Botswana (FUB) secretary-general, Kgosana Masaseng said their hands were tied on the relief fund but the union has asked the Botswana Football Association (BFA) to extend a helping hand through a loan system to the clubs. He said of the less than 50 foreign players in the league, only half are severely affected by the COVID-19 situation.

 Others have been paid and assisted as per their contractual agreement with their employers.

“We knew that was going to happen, the government had said that the wage subsidy will benefit locals. We saw it coming, but this is bad for football, we at FUB promote solidarity through the game,” he said.

“We have engaged the BFA (Botswana Football Association) to help the players. We put a proposal that the BFA assists the foreign players in what would be a loan to the clubs and they will recover the monies from the FIFA relief fund, it is the best we can do at the moment.”



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