It’s not just Hollywood that loves a happy ending, football does too. The coronavirus pandemic has, however, incinerated a number of lived-happily-ever outcomes. Ugandan league football has not been spared. At least that is what Makindye West legislator Allan Ssewanyana would tell you if you gave him audience.
Ssewanyana, who doubles as the chairperson of Katwe United, learnt this past week that his club — together with five others — has been relegated to the third tier of Uganda’s football pyramid. Fufa’s top organ used a force majeure provision in its statutes to reach some kind of logical endpoint after the pandemic brought league football to a screeching halt two months ago.
The law can be unilaterally invoked if 75 per cent of matches packed in a season have been played. The merits and demerits of the provision were passionately debated 29 years ago when KCCA FC toasted to a topflight title.
They continue to do so now with Vipers having taken champagne off the ice. While the tone of those the provision has rubbed the wrong way is unfortunate, they in the main raise some strong points.
One of the startling revelations during the coronavirus pandemic is the growing realisation that we are fighting a 21st-century disease with 20th-century medicine (Hydroxychloroquine).
The same can be said of the 75 per cent clause in the Fufa statutes. It is quite frankly a lumbering remnant of a 20th-century way of doing things. It doesn’t for instance consider variables such as the nature of the run-in of respective teams. Sir Alex Ferguson called it ‘squeaky bum time’ with good reason.
This is to take nothing away from the teams that have ended up mounting the winner’s podium (be it putting silverware in the trophy cabinet or beating the drop).
In the topflight, despite parting ways with Edward Golola at one point, Vipers always found the right gear to navigate safely through turbulent waters. KCCA FC, who had the Venoms looking over their shoulder after Fahad Bayo’s goals seemed to dry up in the second round, were not consistent enough.
Even with 15 points still up for grabs, there are no certainties that a four-point deficit would have been overhauled.
This was hardly the KCCA FC of old. A 3-0 hiding at the hands of BUL FC in the first round showed that the Kasasiro Boys were anything but otherworldly even with Allan Okello on their books.
A surprise 2-1 defeat against lowly Bright Stars forced KCCA’s usually mild-mannered fans to spew venom and contempt at Mike Mutebi.
When he appeared NTV’s flagship sports show Press Box a couple of weeks ago, Mutebi said he would have no qualms if the force majeure provision is invoked.
Rules, the KCCA FC first team manager stressed, are rules. But they don’t have to be antiquated or fly in the face of sporting merit for that matter. Which the 75 per cent provision does as the likes of Ssewanyana and Mujib Kasule would tell you.