Coach Douglas Bamweyana

The concerns about officiating and the conduct of referees in the Uganda Premier League is now a song on replay. There is a case of poor officiating either by mistake or design almost on every matchday.

In the aftermath of the incidents that happened at Kavumba Recreation Centre as Kitara FC stunned Wakiso Giants FC on Wednesday to register their first win, coach Douglas Bamweyana who was very furious towards Centre referee Deogratious Opio has come out with an open letter to the football fraternity in Uganda.

Douglas Bamweyana Credit: John Batanudde

Bamweyana who joined Wakiso Giants FC at the start of the season and has registered just two wins in 13 games, says he is disappointed with the glaring unfairness and has declared he will withdraw from coaching in Uganda in the next three weeks.

“After very deep contemplation and forethought; I have come to a very honest submission that it’s increasingly getting too painful to practice my passion and career in coaching – with glaring unfairness and syndicate treatments – hence declare my intention to withdraw from Uganda Club Football Coaching within the next 3 weeks. I will seek to pursue my coaching passion and career at the earliest opportunity in any other country,” a disappointed Bamweyana notes.

“It surprisingly came to my knowledge that I’m a subject of syndicated subjective officiation following my professional and personal request to the chairman of the refereeing committee (about 3 years back) about the experience of referees assigned to some of the UPL games – which he brought to their specific attention. And due to their solidarity through Sunday classes, regular group training and moving to games as teams coupled with a culture lacking professionalism – I was the subject in their circles for quite a while and either formally or informally decidedly targeted at every opportunity (reliably informed and warned by friends amongst them).

Bamweyana claims that one of the referees, Robert Donney told him at a previous club to either resign or the club will not win matches.

Referee Robert Donney

“One official called Robert Donny told me in the presence of the team captain (at my former club) <<and I quote>> “Bw’onova ku team – egya kugoba emipiira kuba erina abasambi abalungi – olina okugobwa, team tugenda kugiwonya naye ng’ogenze” – following my inquiry over his justification for the penalty he awarded Bright Stars FC at the end of that game at Kavumba Recreation Centre – besides countless subjective calls and a clean goal disallowed in the same game. Justifying the Implied syndicated effort to get me sacked and that they will deal with saving the team right after! Such is the power that referees have been granted in Uganda’s football. It’s best that I do not subject clubs to further pain and suffering – my assumption of the sabotage waning down was wrong!”

In this letter, the soft spoken coach goes ahead to list the reasons why he thinks he is a target by many referees who deliberately take decisions against his team(s) to fail him.

“My major crimes – one might wonder:”

1. Being outspoken about the quality of refereeing which is public knowledge! – which not only affects our job stability but most painfully dents our careers that we so strive to better! I still assert that we hold a joint responsibility to address our football issues to realize improvement and achieve our dreams. It’s not a reserve of a select few to talk about those issues – let alone correct them!

2. I have not promoted the “referees’ take home package” in all the clubs I’ve served – which doesn’t sit well with their culture for subjective officiation. One once directly told me to talk to my bosses to reinstate their package for favourable officiation. It will never be my way of doing things! I’m guilty as charged for stopping those cash flows.

3. Knowing the rules and identifying the officials’ erroneous calls to some detail. There’s not a thread of doubt that a fair number are deficient in general competence: rules interpretation /enforcement, game management, integrity, confidence, consistency, serenity, respectful communication, et. cetera. The problem is assuming that the rest serving the sport are clueless and shouldn’t question their decisions… I’m popularly branded Ow’olugezigezi in their circles.

Douglas Bamweyana reacts to a missed chance in a game. [Photo: John Batanudde]

Bamweyana indicates that whereas he has made efforts to have his concerns addressed, they have been ignored most of the times.

“I have made efforts in different forums to bring this to the attention of all the powers that be – only to be ignored or receive nonchalant responses indicative of the assumption that it’s not a serious issue! Hence the standpoint that I cannot continue to work in such an environment – which offers no hope of curbing the clear and obvious vice! I have honestly lost the appetite to wake up to work in this environment where I’m not guaranteed to get a fair return for my labour! The rampant vice defeats the whole purpose!” He notes.

With this letter, it is not known whether Bamweyana will resign his job at Wakiso Giants FC in the coming three weeks. The Club is yet to make a statement in response.

Before joining the Purple Sharks, Bamweyana has formerly coached at Express FC, SC Villa, Maroons, Proline FC and Makerere University.

Joel Muyita

Joel Muyita is a senior staff writer at Kawowo Sports.

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