Football dragged back to usual corner

Going nowhere: The Ratanang saga is dragging on PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
Going nowhere: The Ratanang saga is dragging on PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE

The local football season has ended the way it started; in controversy. It had appeared the country’s most popular sport was out of the woods but as the season approached its end, a regular irritant reared its ugly head, reports Staff Writer MQONDISI DUBE

The start of the Botswana Premier League season was laden with controversy after five teams; Extension Gunners, Notwane, Mahalapye Railway Highlanders, Gilport Lions, and Mogoditshane Fighters were expelled from the league. The five were said to have failed to meet the Club Licensing requirements. The chopping of the five sides had temporarily left the league with only 11 clubs. However, a decision was taken to pardon the sides and soften the Club Licensing requirements to ensure the teams were compliant. Before then the Botswana Football Association (BFA) had been accused of failing to do enough to ensure the return to play after the game was halted in March 2020 owing to the outbreak of the COVID-19. The BFA faced criticism for declaring the season complete, although there were still 10 games to play before the disruption. There were calls to nullify the season instead. But the football authorities stuck by their decision, which saw some teams reluctantly relegated to the First Division.

Botswana football went for almost two years without action, as restive clubs demanded a return to play. When the season eventually got off the ground, the league had no title sponsor and teams were told they would only learn how much their sweat was worth, during the season. There was collective relief when football finally got underway in October, amid the new and present threat posed by COVID-19. The season appeared to run seamlessly, although the little rumblings could be heard here and there, these remained largely inconsequential. The BPL was praised for taxiing and getting the league airborne amid the prevailing challenges. Football was seemingly in cruise control destined for a smoother landing, a rare achievement for a controversy-laden game. But as the season's descent began, the Premier League’s plane hit violent turbulence. Everyone on board was disturbed as reports emerged Township Rollers had used a defaulter. Rollers were neck-to-neck with Gaborone United for the league title at the time. However, it only got deeper when it was revealed that Onkarabile Ratanang was registered almost a month after the transfer window closed. It was a fraudulent act, the BFA said.

Editor's Comment
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From Jakoba's mysterious disappearance on November 9 to the grim discovery of his remains at Mosinki Lands, a gap in the response mechanisms of the police and village leadership has been laid bare. The community's anger is evident, seen in the attack on Bakang Masole, the man found driving Jakoba's taxi and the main suspect, and the subsequent riot. Residents express discontent, citing a troubling trend of missing persons cases often...

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