Unmasking the Fufa club licensing requirements

Vipers striker Yunus Ssentamu scores a goal against Mbarara City in the Stanbic Uganda Cup. PHOTO/EDDIE CHICCO 

What you need to know:

The Fufa Club Licensing is a tool developed by the federation to promote the professionalisation of the clubs participating in its competitions. The Licensing requirements were first developed and adopted by the Fifa executive committee on October 29, 2007 and started officially in 2008.

For the umpteenth time, the Uganda Premier League will kick off on a rough patch after clubs struggled to meet the desired requirements for the Fufa Club License in time. Last season, the topflight kicked off without record champions Villa after they failed to meet a key requirement for the Club Licensing. They were only drafted after match day two. In the Fufa Big League, former premier league side Water was flashed down to the regional leagues for the same reason leaving the league unevenly balanced while Proline failed to complete their match against Blacks Power for failing to present the minimum number of players to continue the match.

For the 2022/23 season, Fufa raised the dust again when they announced that only four clubs had complied with the regulations as they confirmed Kyetume’s relegation for failing the most of basics, uploading player’s on the system. The four are Vipers, Bul, KCCA and Wakiso Giants while the other thirteen were granted provisional licenses. August 10 and 22 were initially proposed in the club licensing action plan for the release of the draft and final fixtures respectively but they passed without any. The UPL was scheduled to kick off September 10 before being pushed forward by twenty days but that also looks blurry.

It won’t be a surprise if the thirteen fail to present full squads on the opening match days with fully fit coaches on the touchlines.

Tool for professionalism

The Fufa Club Licensing is a tool developed by the federation to promote the professionalisation of the clubs participating in its competitions. The Licensing requirements were first developed and adopted by the Fifa executive committee on October 29, 2007 and started officially in 2008.

It was introduced in Uganda ten years ago in 2012 by the then-Lawrence Mulindwa administration. This year, it was introduced in women's football but with lighter requirements.

“Fufa has worked progressively to improve the standard of professionalisation within Uganda football; The Club Licensing system is progressive, engaging, consistent and transparent, Fufa President Eng. Moses Magogo stated at the launch of the 2022/23 licensing process.

“This is what will generate money for club football and consequently improve the standards of the game. With improved standards and performance, it will be a matter of time for Ugandan football to achieve our vision,” he added.

Overall, the objectives are to safeguard the credibility and integrity of club competitions, improving the level of professionalism, providing safe and secure match environments and promoting transparency in the control, ownership and financing of clubs. The requirements under the tool are divided into five categories; sporting, infrastructure, personnel and administrative, legal and financial.

Mandatory requirements

The five categories are further split into three levels of gradation A, B and C. The criteria “A” are mandatory and therefore must be fulfilled before issuance of a license to play in the respective Fufa competitions. Whereas Criteria B is important, Fufa may issue a full, provisional or deny license if one attains or fails to a certain score in their points’ evaluation system.

  Under Criteria B, a club that scores above 70 percent qualifies for a full license, 56-69 percent earns a provisional with the pending requirements to be fulfilled before second round, between 46 to 56 will be given time to fulfill the minimum before any type of license is issued while below that raises a red flag.

To start with, the Uganda Premier and Fufa Big league clubs must fulfill the criteria for sporting which comprises presenting valid contracts and medical reports of all players registered by the Club and a licensed football academy that participates in the respective Fufa Juniors leagues. A UPL club must submit a minimum of 16 players including two goalkeepers to pass this criterion. According to Fufa, Kyetume had only uploaded three. Fufa also requires players to submit both their national identity card and a passport with matching data.

The clubs must have a stadium that meets the minimum standards for a Fufa stadium certification and be able to present documents that confirm security of tenure and a training ground with similar requirements. The stadium must have an external and internal perimeter fence, working sanitary facilities, an all-green pitch and working evacuation system.

 A maximum of two clubs will be allowed to share a natural grass pitch while up to four are allowed for artificial turfs. A fully furnished office is also required.

The office will be run by a chief executive officer who has undergone the Fufa management and administration course and duly contracted. Among the other personnel required includes a fully contracted finance officer and a marketing and communications officer.

The technical team is headed by a fulltime coach with a minimum of Caf B coaching diploma or its equivalent and an assistant with the same credentials. The same qualification is required for a caretaker coach who can only operate for a maximum of four weeks. A coach will not be allowed to handle more than two clubs in the 2022/23 season. Goalkeeping coaches and fitness trainers will be required to possess the relevant Fufa certifications.

Financially sound

The club must be financially sound. The clubs pay a subscription fee currently at two million shillings. Then, they are required to provide the financial statements for last year, a bank statement for the last six months and proof that they have paid players and coaches every quarter of the year. This is the elephant in the UPL’s clubs rooms where most player/coach vs club disputes arise but Fufa has failed to tighten the bolt.

They must also reveal their sources of income which includes a letter of guarantee from their respective sponsors and nature of contracts.

Legal structure

This is an area that has affected several clubs with the latest being the Busoga United ownership saga. Here, the clubs are required to present their statutes approved by the members and owners and a club ownership declaration to ascertain the true owners as required by the laws of Uganda.

This will also ensure that the separation of roles is well-defined and committed to comply with the relevant Fufa regulations.

Laxity in implementation

Fufa and its club licensing has a decent draft on paper but ten years on, the same problems keep clouding the brand. In July, about eight clubs were fined up to two million shillings as stipulated in the laws for failing to meet the first deadline. The fixtures keep delaying, ownership scandals are still on, players' and coaches’ payment disputes are rampant while the league is still suffering unnecessary postponements. There’s also a feeling from a section of the clubs that the tool is being weaponized to punish a section. In that it is used differently to moderate the same scenarios. To end this, Fufa must be firm but fair to all while maintaining the acceptable standards.

Five areas of club licensing;

1. Sporting

2. Infrastructure

3. Administrative and personnel

4. Legal           

5. Financial