In the past few years, the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (Fufa) has had a few successes.
This is backed up by successive qualifications by the Uganda Cranes to the Africa Cup of Nations and a revamp of women’s football as well as other structures.
However, there are still sticking issues that Fufa has to address. There have been claims of match fixing scandals in the Uganda Premier League (UPL) and now, pending arrears for referees have come to the fore.
Referees are the key figures who enforce the laws of the game, yet 21 match days into the current UPL season, referees are yet to earn their pay.
This is happening even after the title sponsors - StarTimes - offered $680,000 (Shs2.38 billion) to pay referees per season from the 2018-19 season until 2021-2022.
The UPL board confirmed they received and wired referees’ money to Fufa for the first two quarters of the season.
This paper recently reported that Fufa is said to have re-channelled money meant to pay referees to other activities hoping to pick from their other revenues to clear the officials later.
The federation is also yet to pay prize money for last season’s Stanbic Bank-sponsored Uganda Cup.
Whereas the Federation has the prerogative to decide on how to spend finances within its reach, it is imperative that they do the right thing at the right time.
Everyone who renders a service within the law whether in government or private sector ought to be paid what is due to them.
The delay or lack of payment may hinder referees’ movement to upcountry venues like Onduparaka’s home in Arua or at Mbarara City’s Kakyeka.
The Uganda Football Referees Association ought to raise these concerns and have them addressed.
Some referees, we understand, cannot voice their concerns about payment because they fear their badges could be revoked, which is wrong.
We have also learnt that the 17 individuals who have Fifa badges will not speak out because their participation in the local league opens the window to the continental duty at the Confederation of African Football, which financially cushions their rough time at the UPL.
What this then means is that referees will be prone to bribery and match fixing in a bid to make ends meet, as has been reported since 2018.
We ask the Fufa leadership to restore sanity in the game and pay referees what is due to them.
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