The build-up to the start of the 2019-20 Uganda Premier League season has been dominated by issues to do with clubs failing to meet the FUFA Club Licensing Standards.
Several teams have failed to meet at least the minimum requirements and thus forcing them to seek alternative grounds as they work on their initial venues.
Onduparaka FC, Mbarara City FC, Tooro United FC, Kyetume FC, SC Villa, and BUL FC among others have had challenges to do with meeting the set standards.
Whereas the FUFA club licensing requirements feel like a burden to many, it should be noted that this is a mandatory process put in place by world football governing body, Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA).
How did Club Licensing start?
FIFA introduced Club Licensing in 2006 during their congress held in Germany a move that was aimed at developing leagues across the globe.
At the time, of the 250 million registered footballers only 500,000 players were recognized as professionals.
Therefore, FIFA thought that through Club Licensing, standards of leagues and clubs would be improved through a set of requirements put in place.
In October 2016, FIFA unveiled FIFA 2.0, establishing the path forward for FIFA
as the steward of global football, and communicating the organization’s vision:
promote the game of football, protect its integrity, and bring the game to all.
FIFA will achieve this vision by achieving three key objectives: growing the game; enhancing the experience; and building a stronger institution.
The Club Licensing Handbook serves as an effective tool for the implementation of club licensing and is part of FIFA repositioning Club Licensing from a regulatory instrument to a flexible and principle-based vehicle for professionalization of club football.
However, Club Licensing had already existed in Europe with UEFA introducing it in 2004.
This was introduced to tackle challenges such as financial transparency, inadequate stadia, overdue payables and lack of youth investment.
In Uganda, Club Licensing has existed for the last five seasons with top tier league teams subjected to a process of registration prior to the start of every new season.
What does the Club Licensing dossier contain?
The FIFA Club Licensing handbook has five main pillars that are later broken into other components.
The five pillars are;
- Administration and Personnel
- Structure and Legal
In the sporting aspect, club licensing looks at how the teams are set up.
The Club Licensing body finds out whether the clubs qualify to feature in a particular league on sporting merit either having played in the said league the previous season or gained promotion.
Criterion of the Sporting pillar
- Participation in junior and minor matches
In Uganda’s case, every team playing in the top tier league is mandated to have a junior team playing in the FUFA Juniors League.
- Medical care for players
Clubs are supposed to have qualified medical personnel (team doctors) that monitor the health conditions of players both on and off the pitch.
- Written contract with professional players
All teams are supposed to have written contracts with their players and this is mandatory before any player features for a given club.
- Youth Development Programme
- Registration of players
- Laws of the game
- Racial equality policy
- Team structure of professional players
- Availability of stadium
- Minimum quality standards of the stadium
-Minimum quality standards for training facilities
Administration and Personnel
- Club General Management
- Finance manager
- First team coach
- First team assistant coach
- Manager for the youth development programme
- Junior and minor team coaches
- Offices and furniture
- Media and PR manager
- Graduates in physical education
- Security officer
- Security arrangement for home games
- Fans liaison officer
- Communication of changes in management and administration staff
- Training programmes and social responsibility
- Submission to licensing system
- Copy of by-laws, registry entry and registration of board of directors
- Ownership statement and club control
- Registration of internal regulatory policy
- Financial statements
- No past due debts
- Annual income tax return and social security
- Bond guaranteeing payments to players
- Financial management control
- Operating balance information
- Monitoring period