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Are contracts worth the paper they are written on?

CHAKALISA DUBE
In black and white: Chiefs and other local clubs have fallen foul of labour laws PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
FRANCISTOWN: The country’s history is littered with tales of players and coaches who are not being remunerated as per their contracts.

Some clubs like Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Gaborone United have in the past been heavily penalised for failure to pay players and coaches.

Other clubs have often been dragged to the Labour Department or the Industrial Court over pay disputes. More than a year ago an incident featuring Ugandan footballer, Lawrence Ndunga highlighted the level of injustice that is often faced by local players at the hands of their clubs. Ndunga posted on social media that he was starving and had been kicked out of the house by his landlord because the club had not paid his rental. The club was also in salaries arrears. Nduga’s contract was then, reluctantly terminated by Sharps.

Based on the local trend, it appears clubs worry little about having to deal with strict sanctions from FIFA. To clubs, it is like a written contract is just a piece of paper that is not worth honouring.

The world football governing body has often made it clear that all clubs must honour agreements without exception and pay their players as well as coaches their full wages on time.

Now the question on the minds of many football pundits and stakeholders, in general, is what could be done to counter the trend where clubs see little need to honour the contracts of players and coaches? 

Former Botswana Football Association (BFA) president, Tebogo Sebego believes that there should be a change of mindset from all stakeholders in the game for clubs to find a meaningful way to sustain themselves and honour contracts without fail. Sebego opines that the league should push for a solid sponsorship as this would mean that clubs receive enough grants to sustain themselves and fulfil player contracts.

“We can only effectively address the issue of clubs

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that do not pay players by providing grants to teams. The grants should be enough to cover the overhead costs for clubs,” he said. 

“After providing grants that cover overhead costs the league should then regulate and cap players salaries so that clubs do not spend beyond their budget. Those that can pay beyond the salary cap should demonstrate that they can do so to avoid instances where players’ contracts are not honoured.” 

Sebego explained that the reason why many clubs often struggle to pay players is that they spend more to compete than what they earn.

“There has to be a change of mindset to all stakeholders in the game. We should now start aggressively pushing towards attracting solid sponsors as this would mean that clubs receive enough grants that will ensure their sustainability.”

Botswana Football Association (BFA) general manager, Monnakgotla Mojaki who is also in charge of the Premier League, said that there is a strong need for football stakeholders to introspect to counter a trend where clubs do not fulfil the agreements they sign with players, coaches and their suppliers.

“The first stage will be to engage corporate companies so that they assist in terms of how we can package our football to attract sponsorship. There must be something wrong that we are doing because we have engaged several agencies over the years to assist to get sponsorship, but the sponsorship money is not going up,” Mojaki said. With increased sponsorship, Mojaki believes that clubs will be able to receive enough grants to effectively fund their operations.

“Because the Premier League is now run as a company, I assume in my favour that it will be able to device strong initiatives to attract sponsors,” he said.



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