Uganda Cranes striker Joel Madondo has been reduced to baking chapattis that he feeds on with dry tea to survive in the harsh Moroccan city of Casablanca.
The 22-year-old Wydad Casablanca forward is desperate to return home after being confined to a rented apartment without pay or allowances of any kind from his employers since March.
“The club dumped me in the apartment for which I have to pay $1,000 (Shs3.7m) per month yet they have not paid me a salary,”Madondo told Daily Monitor on Wednesday. “My agent has been paying for the apartment and I will pay him back from my salary.”
The former Busoga United prodigy signed a three-year contract with Wydad in January 2020. But according to the player, he has only been paid $1,400 (Shs5.2m) and that was back in February.
“This is not what I expected when I signed for this club. Nothing has gone right,” Madondo said.
“They have only assisted me with 14,000 Moroccan Dirham (about Shs5.2m) on February 20, which I used to buy flour and started making chapattis. You can’t imagine I have been eating chapattis and tea since I came so that I save the little I have.”
Recently, the player - who is thankful to a few West African team mates for their helping hand reached out to a Ugandan here in Kampala he decided not to name for help. The Ugandan then contacted his Moroccan friend for assistance.
“The Moroccan gave me $50 (about Shs190, 000),” said Madondo, who has not heard from his employers since March 14.
“My fellow players from Ivory Coast and Nigeria are the one helping me. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, I was using taxi to and from training. I was spending 30 Moroccan Dirham (Shs12, 000) daily. At that time, the Ivorian player used to bring me back home. My other teammate Michael Babatunde, a Nigerian midfielder, has also helped me acquire Wi-Fi that I use to keep in touch with the outside world. It’s tough for me.”
When Madondo arrived in Morocco, his passport was taken by the club purportedly for using to process a work permit. But Wydad officials have ignored his pleas to have the passport returned to his possession, he says.
“I don’t have any document on me. That is very risky here. The club manager told me if police stop me, I just mention Wydad and nothing will happen.”
The club president Said Naciri is also the vice president of Morocco FA.
Uganda Cranes defender Murushid Juuko, once team mate of Madondo at the Moroccan club, shared a familiar tale of the plight the former Busoga United striker is enduring.
“I also suffered the same problems as the club held onto my passport. I was lucky when I was summoned to Cranes, they had to give it back to me so that I travel back home in March,” Juuko, who is currently in the country, disclosed to this paper yesterday as he appealed to good Samaritans for help to Madondo.
North Africa woes
According to Madondo, fellow players Nelson Ssenkatuka at Moghreb Tétouan, another Moroccan club, and Allan Okello at Algerian side Paradou AC have gone through the same ordeal of having their passports taken.
However, the Daily Monitor could not independently verify the Okello issue as he did not reply to messages sent to his mobile phone. His agent, Isaac Mwesigwa, said he had only spoken to the player on Wednesday and that the issue of passport has never been brought to his attention.
Daily Monitor also understands Ssenkatuka got back his passport and was given $250 (Shs940, 000) facilitation for the Covid-19 pandemic period by his club.
Madondo thinks his problem started when Sebastien Desabre, the former Cranes coach, was sacked from his role as head coach at Wydad and replaced with Spaniard Juan Carlos Garrido.
Madondo believes he is not in the good books of the Spaniard because it was widely reported in the Moroccan press that the Uganda was Desabre’s blue-eyed boy as the latter is the immediate former Cranes coach.
“Once, I came late for training since am using taxis almost on a daily and he blasted me in front of my teammates. It took the intervention of the captain for him to calm down,” moaned Madondo.
Fufa in the loop
Madondo said he has already contacted Fufa for help. Paul Mukatabala, the deputy national team manager, acknowledged having talked to the player. “We have talked to him and briefed Moses Magogo, the Fufa boss,” soft-spoken Mukatabala told Daily Monitor yesterday.
Fufa publicist Hussein Ahmed Marsha was caught off guard when contacted about Madondo’s troubles.
“I didn’t know what the boy (Madondo) is going through. We have heard about similar cases and torrid times that many of our players go through when in North Africa. And this is not the first time. We are going to follow up,” he said.
Hussein hinted that Fufa’s Transfer Matching System (TMS) and Legal Manager Denis Lukambi would advise Madondo on the next step.
Date of birth: Mar 26, 1998
Current club: Wydad Casablanca (Morocco)
Joined: Jan 10, 2020
Contract expires: June, 2023
Previous club: Busoga United
National Career: 4 caps, 1 goals