Some of my most trusted friends in life are sports journalists who candidly tell me what is
right or wrong without fear or favour.

I take their criticism without feeling offended and many have helped shape my football
decisions. Let me bell the cat. There’s a saying that, unlike the brain, the stomach will tell you
if empty or full. This is the exact approach any leader should take, especially when presiding over a public good like football.

An independent and professional media plays the role of a public watchdog, demands accountability, and is an agenda-setter. Unfortunately, I have recently noticed that some elements in the media have become part and parcel of the cartel that is gagging sport, particularly football.

Many practicing journalists from respectable media houses now openly pass off as
consultants or influencers of Fufa, something that has erased the line between
professionalism and support for an institution. Perhaps this has become a lucrative goldmine
to the extent that sports scribes are always jostling for positions in Fufa, National Council of
Sports and Uganda Olympic Committee. I am not against those who seek to change careers
but those who continue to hoodwink the public that they are independent whereas not.

Understandably, these journalists mostly do so in return for financial favours or trips abroad
for sporting events. However, this should not come at the cost of selling the soul.

For one, Fufa’s manipulative machinations have found soft ground in this section of the
media actors and currently, the federation selectively chooses which journos are accorded
local and international match accreditations, attend major sports events, national team
travels, and media cocktails. This has further compromised the profession to abandon its
noble role of fair reporting and accountability seekers on behalf of the unsuspecting public.
This needs to change if the sports media is to regain the respect it commanded during the
days of fine brains like Kevin Aliro, Rashid Mudin, Kenneth Matovu, Louis Jadwong, Mark
Ssali, Wangwe Mulakha, and Francis Batte, among others.

No corrupt sports administrator was safe when info reached Joseph Kabuleta but today, the
disgraced Moses Magogo openly derides respectable journalists like James Bakama with
support from some media circles.

I am strengthened by the fact that we still have some credible names like Hassan Badru
Zziwa, Robert Madoi, Johnson Musinguzi, and Aldrine Nsubuga, among others, but I know a number of sports scribes who are affiliates of Fufa.

A one-time close media friend confided in me that he returned to Magogo’s good books
because he was promised to get the position of Fufa Communications Director currently held
by Ahmed Hussein. It is now coming to three years and he is still not sure he will get it.

I am told many more journalists have been promised the same position or provided national
teams media roles and Fufa committee memberships as bait to water down their criticism.
Oftentimes, these journalists-turned-sycophants relay Fufa’s disparaging catchwords such
as ‘saboteur’ or ‘anti-football’ to fend off criticism from people like me.

It is always an attempt to suppress legitimate viewpoints. I have seen some media
commentators suggest that it is both wrong and mean to be unsupportive of Magogo’s Fufa
leadership yet they will be hard-pressed to comment on the corruption and lack of
accountability in Fufa.

A one-time Magogo critic who turned around after being offered a seat in Fufa recently said those who criticize the federation do so to create sympathy. I take deep offence.

That to be anti-Magogo is anti-Fufa. How weird! That would be siding with the oppressor.
Instead, I am totally pro-football in that sense. What I call pro-football people are those that
don’t see Magogo and his backers as a force for the good of the game. Real football lovers
vehemently dissent corruption, manipulation of rules to ring-fence positions, impunity, and
self-aggrandizement.

So, while some media personalities have become part of the scourge affecting football, I’m
nourished immensely by those that question sports authorities and consistently oppose
abuse of office.

Just look at the dreadful treatment of players at the 2019 Afcon. It was an open secret but
some members of the media contingent at the tournament were compromised to cover it up and it took the players’ open revolt for their plight to be known.

All this leaves a question; is the media part and parcel of the failed sports systems?

Immanuel Ben Misagga

Immanuel Ben Misagga is a former SC Villa president

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