The squabbling between the Uganda Premier League clubs and Fufa is not alien to Uganda football.
There has been a little sanity in the recent campaigns nevertheless, since the peak of the bickering that resulted in two leagues way in 2012/13.
However, it looks as though we could be heading back to the olden days as several clubs seem to be unhappy with the way Fufa has usurped the league management and even “manipulated” their body.
The silent war went public on Tuesday when nine clubs wrote to UPL informing the CEO of their unwillingness to attend a Fufa consultative meeting due Wednesday at Fufa House.
The meeting was called by the FA last week on its media platforms but Kawowo Sports understands that individual clubs only got their invitations on Monday 8th, just a day to the meeting which proposes to discuss club licensing for the forthcoming season.
For your information, the meeting was only called by Fufa after clubs reliably petitioned the Education and Sports Minister Janet Kataha Museveni over what they termed as injustices from the mother body, something that was unwelcome to the FA.
“The invitation to discuss club licensing and league reforms in one meeting is ineffective and will not deliver the desired outcome of the meeting,” read part of the letter signed by Mbarara FC Chairman Mwiine Mpaka on behalf of Express FC, SC Villa, Bul FC, Kyetume, Busoga United, Wakiso Giants, Onduparaka, Bright Stars and Mbarara City.
“The notice given is rather too short for us to make the necessary preparations and consultations. We had earlier planned for a similar meeting scheduled for June 18th, 2020 as communicated by yourself on the UPL forum.”
“Owing to the above, therefore, we have unanimously agreed not to attend the scheduled meeting due on June 10th, 2020. The following suggestions are also proposed for better planning going forward.
“Organize a separate meeting for CEOs to discuss club licensing, organize a separate meeting for club chairmen to discuss strategic issues affecting the future of the league,” the letter added.
UPL CEO Bernard Bainamani responded by revealing the letter signed by Mpaka isn’t recognized and thus expects clubs to attend the meeting with Fufa.
“Reference is made to unreferenced letter dated 9th June 2020 received on 9th June 2020 at 3:14 pm from an email account firstname.lastname@example.org (David Ssema) purported to have been signed by Hon. Mwine Mpaka, Chairman, Mbarara City FC on behalf of the under-listed Club Members.
“We respond that we do not recognise this letter since the members purporting to be representatives of the listed clubs have not appended their signatures individually.
“Secondly, UPL recognizes official communications from individual clubs signed by the Club CEO, Chairman or President.
“Note that the meeting notice was sent to individual clubs and we expected each club to respond individually.
“Therefore, this is to confirm to you that the meeting remains as scheduled (Wednesday 10th June 2020, 10:00 am, FUFA House, MENGO),” the letter concluded.
It remains to be seen whether the meeting will take place with all the clubs represented but here are the few issues we understand the nine clubs are not happy with and why the rest could caring less.
They are unhappy with the Fufa proposal to reduce the teams from 16 to 12 by 2021/22 without the clubs being consulted first and insist this was a rushed reform. And going by reports, FA isn’t willing to backtrack despite their input.
Clubs also feel they deserve a share of the cake from Shs. 10 billion from Government through National Council of Sports (NCS) since Fufa fronts its case to have such a share based on among others, crowds from these clubs.
“Fufa used the fans’ presence at Uganda Cranes Matches at Namboole and league games that draw crowds to have a justification that Football is widely supported in Uganda and thus deserve to be given the huge package unlike other federations that have no crowds,” one club official reliably stated.
“But when Fufa receives the money, clubs become useless yet for starters, they are part of the FA as per the constitution and also contribute players to the national teams.”
Due to the COVID19 pandemic and the extended lockdown that hit the sports sector, Fufa had no option but call off the season. However, clubs fault it for not holding any consultative meetings as done elsewhere.
“We are aware of the situation and the rules and regulations in force majeure situations but taking a decision without consultations in totally disrespectful to clubs as they invest a lot,” several club officials Kawowo Sports talked to lament.
The clubs also accuse the FA of imposing a representative on them against the regulations but their pleas are falling on a deaf ear.
They insist that the Fufa 3rd Vice President, Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi who ironically beat Busoga United Chairperson Nyago in an election several years ago should vacate the seat since she is no longer a leader at Express FC where she was Chairperson when elected.
“This appears like being a Speaker of Parliament without being a Member of Parliament and so she can’t understand us since she is no longer part of us,” said club officials.
Another grievance clubs fault Fufa for stems from the signing of the StarTimes deal that they were never part of but only learnt at the time of unveiling.
They insist that several of their would be sources of finance were locked out something they feel should have been ironed had they been part of the negotiations.
“We all remember how Express and Onduparaka lost out of GOtv and Azam TV respectively and this explains the struggles financially these clubs have gone through.”
As earlier reported, Fufa wasn’t impressed with clubs petitioned the Education and Sports Minister and with the meeting with them due to happen soon, the FA had to meet the clubs first and fast.
“If FUFA could not call clubs for a meeting before cancelling the league or after receiving money from both FIFA and Caf, why is rush now?” clubs wonder.
KCCA, Vipers and Police were among the teams that didn’t sign a petition to meet the Minister and understandably so.
All the three were beneficiaries of the Fufa decision to end the league with Vipers taking home the championship, KCCA earning Caf Confederation Cup representation rights against the rules and Police survived relegation.
“It’s no surprise that Vipers who have always been pro-clubs have deserted. They were beneficiaries and so is KCCA and Police but they also believe there is injustice,” said a source.
For now, it remains to be seen whether clubs stance against the FA will yield fruits and not antagonism as has always been in the past.