If you want to know how dysfunctional our club football administration is, you only need to look at how authority trickles down from the top.
We have a Fufa Vice President representing Uganda Premier League (UPL) clubs yet the individual is not a member of any UPL club.
Then you have a UPL board, a body entrusted to cater for the clubs interests, being dominated by members without any club affiliation.
Amidst all this, you have a federation that holds key power and influence on the UPL, thereby rendering the UPL board ineffective. That’s the status quo powers at Fufa want and it is a tactic aimed to ring-fence key positions for select individuals. Well, that was until some forthright people like me emerged to punch holes into the structure and operations of the two supposedly most important pillars in Ugandan football. Fufa got so shaken and is now moving to silence critics by embarking on a sinister operation to fully hijack the UPL, thereby blocking the path for anyone seeking to challenge for leadership. When it comes to power and influence, Fufa is already a special member of the UPL [yet it doesn’t pay the annual Shs1m all 16 clubs do] and also holds veto powers over UPL board decisions. It goes beyond that: Fufa also appoints the CEO to run the UPL secretariat on top of making fixtures, choosing all UPL match officials and commissioners. When it comes to controlling funds, Fufa is a principal signatory to the UPL accounts. Need I mention that Fufa also takes 10 per cent of UPL’s StarTimes sponsorship money?
In essence, we have a regulator (Fufa) acting as the accounting officer, yet leaves the clubs to go it alone when it comes to maintaining themselves. It goes without saying that UPL clubs spend Shs400m annually to maintain and sustain the UPL board yet most of the work is done by Fufa. So, at best, this Fufa influence makes the UPL board redundant or merely reduced to be a distribution centre for money. But in spite of Fufa’s clear conflict of interest, many clubs have been left to look on as a select few individuals with questionable football interests dominate them.
Now here is the clincher! The current UPL board’s term expires later this month but Fufa is discreetly pushing for their stay in office in order to execute the grand scheme to amend the UPL Memorandum and articles of association (MEMARTS) in time for elections.
This is a result of a new wave of discontent among clubs over the role of the UPL board and disbursement of funds. Interestingly, the board is yet to seek the mandate of UPL clubs for the proposed extension.
So, the federation has moved to silence critical voices by aiming to get more powers to vet UPL board nominees as well as ensuring that the UPL board chairperson is elected by a few selected members.
This is impunity at its best and the manipulation of the UPL constitution will be fought by the clubs. It’s quite ironic that whereas the Fufa CEO is appointed after a competitive process, the same federation imposes a CEO on the UPL. UPL is acting like a monkey that participates in the destruction of a forest. Fufa hijacked the UPL, used a left hand to create the board and a right hand to take away its powers. Unfortunately, many clubs fear to engage Fufa because it is an open secret coming out like I do may turn you into an enemy. But that will not stop my resilience.
Lessons from the past
Fufa claim its influence over UPL is not infringement but overseeing and monitoring of Fifa and Caf goals; but how come the two superior bodies have no representative on the Fufa executive to oversee activities? What UPL needs is an independent board accountable to clubs and with checks and balances. We don’t need a board without independence. Back in the 90s when we used to have the Super Division Clubs Association (SDCA) or even the Villa Express KCCA alliance (VEK), they used to check the excesses of Fufa and were influential when representing club interests. A strong SDCA was the reason Villa twice reached continental finals but with the current UPL setup, we shouldn’t expect any lofty ambitions because members spend most time trying to hold onto positions than actually developing the game. Fufa is like a monkey that celebrates the death of the maize farmer because he used to chase it from the maize field and it is until the monkey finishes all the maize left that it realises it cannot grow any more maize and therefore cannot survive. In perspective, Fufa is now seeking to control the commercial rights of the clubs by amending the MEMARTS in the hope of fully controlling that Shs27bn StarTimes sponsorship money. When that money gets finished then Fufa will realise the clubs are the owners of the ‘maize field’. In a bid to render the board inept and impotent, Fufa assured the board members that clubs have no right to replace them and as a result they only listen and dance to the music from the Mengo FA. To manipulate the MEMARTS, FUFA took over the constitution review and imposed their lawyer to lead the process yet the board has a lawyer on retainer. Why should such a simple task require two legal brains; and why a FUFA lawyer? Unfortunately, the so called model clubs, because of their nature, have nothing to lose and therefore are just clapping without question. This has weakened the clubs’ bargaining power rendering other neutral clubs mute and clueless.
The author is Nyamityobora FC president.