Alupo will not tolerate ‘jokes’
Posted Friday, January 4 2013 at 02:00
Soccer. SuperSport and UBL signed a five-year $5 million broadcast pact and a three-year Shs2.2 billion title sponsorship deal respectively, with the USL last year. By press time, the FSL did not have any sponsors.
On December 13, 2012, the Minister of Education and Sports, Maj. Jessica Alupo, met Fufa, the Uganda Super League (USL), sponsors Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL) and SuperSport in an effort to redirect the country’s worrying football trend. The minister henceforth directed that by January 31, 2013, the Fufa-backed Super League (FSL) - and the USL go reason together and come back with one topflight league.
The ministry's Permanent Secretary, Mr Francis Lubanga, was charged with the responsibility of overseeing the process. Daily Monitor had a chat with Maj. Alupo.
So what exactly do you want in their report when they return to you by January 31, minister?
They should come back with a solution which in my view will be to have one league. They should come back with one league so that we will be able to be competitive enough, so that we do not have parallel leagues, and that we avoid unnecessary competition.
Did the conflicting parties let you know how the two leagues came into being during the meeting?
They didn’t. You know the Fufa people told me that if Fufa Super League tells me the underlined currents where the problem came from, that they will talk until cows come back home. And then Uganda Super League also said if they tell me what is going on in the football world between them and Fufa, they will talk until cows come back home. So I said to avoid cows coming back home, go and come back before 31st of January and present me with a suitable solution to this problem. When we were discussing everyone was saying it’s important that we have one league, so that would be the suitable solution for me. Because we have given you ample time - between the second half of December and the second half of January. They can meet as many times as possible because we even sponsored the meetings. I told the PS (Francis Lubanga), ‘make sure that you facilitate these meetings as much as they want to meet.’ But most important is they come back after ironing out these jokes of theirs, when they have one league that we can all talk about.
But don’t you think between when you met both parties and January 31 is enough time for money to change hands, for heads to be corrupted?
For me I thought that gap was ample enough because they told me they need to make enough consultations at all levels with all leaders of the clubs. So just in case money is to change hands, I have asked my PS to keep track on that.
But don’t you think he could also be corrupted by either party?
One of the reasons why I identified the PS, and even ignored the National Council for Higher Education personnel and the Minister of State for Sports (Charles Bakkabulindi) is because of the so many petitions I have here, which have pointed out so many names here in the ministry. But I have not seen the name of the PS. And the little time I have worked with him I know that he is also a very straight forward person and not very easy to swing using anything.
Well, in the corridors, most welcomed your move but others are questioning the wisdom of you directing for one league yet both the FSL and USL continue playing games and money continues to be spent. Why not stop both leagues so that the concerned parties can sort their issues? Or would that amount to government interference?
What I know is that solving problems, you’ve got to take one step at a time. I wouldn’t want a scenario where it has already been quoted that the Major is using military orders to say this and that. Where military orders apply of course I wouldn’t hesitate to issue them. But this case, it is a delicate situation, which I think has taken so long and it has now reached the maturity. But if they come back by 31st of January, assuming they have not agreed to one league, that’s when another course of action will be taken. And no, it is not government interference, but intervention. For now it is very important that we give them the benefit of doubt.
What did you say about that one league that they, hopefully, come up with, and sponsors?
What we said is that it is very important for us to have one league. And one of the advantages that we had in mind is that one league can easily attract sponsors. Then we also added that the blessing that we have now is that one of the leagues (USL) already has sponsors. So for you to maintain these sponsors, it is better for you to come out very clearly with one league, and let’s not lose the sponsors that we currently have.
How about the issue of the current but archaic Sports Act that does not allow Fufa to become a limited company, which it essentially is? Lawrence Mulindwa stays put yet Denis Obua (RIP) was thrown out of office by then Education Minister Namirembe Bitamazire when he registered Fufa as a limited company.
I know about that in the several petitions that I have here. One is talking about why Fufa is violating the act by registering itself as a limited company. There are also petitions of accountability. But let’s address one problem at a time.
And how about the National Sports Policy, when shall we have one in place?
We have already presented guidelines for the National Sports Policy and it’s due to be presented in parliament. Those principles are now the ones being used by the parliamentary council to amend the Sports Act.
But why did you wait for this Fufa/USL thing to boil to this point?
We have been engaging them and this is why I’m saying enough is enough. I don’t like it when someone who has come to sponsor our football to be treated like the way he was treated. The Fufa/USL problem has reached a point of no return. I’m not ready to be part of their confusion.