‘Besides, you cannot be seen to lobby to host Afcon when you cannot take Motsepe to any stadium...
Two major events have highlighted two contrasting fortunes of Ugandan sport over the past one week.
On one hand, Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo did wonders to win gold and bronze respectively in the 10,000 metres race at the ongoing World Athletics Championships in Oregon, Eugene in the United States of America.
The Uganda Athletics Federation operates on a shoestring budget but with each passing year, the athletes continue to punch above their weight to fly Uganda’s flag high on the global scene.
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In fact, I don’t think there is any form of advertising Uganda that can eclipse Cheptegei’s feats over the last few years on the international scene.
By now, Chepetegei has transcended sport to become a national icon and the mere mention of Uganda evokes his name across the globe. By contrast, the government pumps billions of shillings in football without any tangible returns in the growth of the game.
It so happened that a few hours before Cheptegei’s feat, Patrice Motsepe, the Confederation of African Football president, was concluding a two-day visit in Uganda.
Upon his arrival, Motsepe was taken to Fufa house to address football officials about ‘governance’ and later to Kampala Serena hotel to address the media. He was also taken to Parliament and later State House to meet President Museveni.
In all these events, Fufa seized the opportunity to preach Uganda’s readiness to co-host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations tournament and it remains to be seen whether Motsepe will consider the ambitious proposal.
It is ironical that South African billionaire, who rose to the continent’s highest football office on grounds of his investment in club football, never got a chance to meet and share tips with any local football investors like Dr Lawrence Mulindwa, Omar Ahmed Mandela or even the Uganda Premier League teams to better understand Uganda’s challenges and what needs to be done.
At the very least, a few minutes would have been spared for him to visit, for example, St Mary’s stadium or Mandela National Stadium Namboole, which in my opinion could be the stadiums to host the Afcon, should we get a chance.
Besides, you cannot be seen to lobby to host Afcon when you cannot take Motsepe to any stadium in the country or show the necessary infrastructure to host such a continental event. This would, for instance, help understand what investments are needed and how this may be done.
Instead, Fufa president Moses Magogo and his executive committee chose to direct Motsepe into the political folly yet he greatly abhors government’s involvement in the game using Fifa rule of non-interference. That rule was created undoubtedly with good intention for the betterment and development of football around the world by preventing governmental and political interference in football matters.
However, this rule protects convicted corrupt football officials because they cannot be summoned by the courts or governmental institutions of their own states to answer for their malpractices.
As a result, the Fifa rule of non-interference contributes to corruption because it is like giving Fufa a blank cheque and leaving the vault and bank doors open.
Let me get back to investing in sports. Fufa enjoys a lion’s share of the sports budget but the athletics team did not need a TV or radio station to have the best preparations for the game and neither did they need buildings because that is outside the mandate of UAF.
Development of any sports discipline starts with identifying and nurturing talent into world beaters like the Cheptegeis.
I strongly believe that the visit of Motsepe should have been maximized to help Uganda have the right investment in football, which might benefit other disciplines.
Mr Immanuel Ben Misagga is a football investor.