New Year? What new year? The more things change in our football, the more they stay . . .

Author: Robert Madoi is a sports journalist and analyst. PHOTO/FILE/NMG.

What you need to know:

  • True to form, 2022 will start the way 2021 ended. In a state of utter confusion. 

The maiden column of a new year such as this is ideally supposed to be suppositional about starting again with a clean slate. Your columnist is expected to be almost completely unquestioning of the merits of hitting the reset button. The tantalising suggestion that – at some foreseeable point – things will change for the better is supposed to be proffered.

Sadly, the dynamic is more complex when it comes to Ugandan club football. The more things change, the more they remain the same. Take the tale of poor officiation and its attendant effects. The impervious mask Fufa wears with each passing year suggests that the local football governing body is broadly content with itself and its values. Yet 2021 ended the way 2020 started – with as much conspiratorial baggage as one can imagine.

True to form, 2022 will start the way 2021 ended. In a state of utter confusion. Moses Magogo’s response to the farce that played out during the top flight league match between Onduparaka and KCCA was what we have come to expect it to be – evasive. The Fufa president was relentless in both his advice and criticism, following acts of mindless hooliganism at the Greenlight Stadium. He also conceded that Fufa is duty-bound “to provide proper refereeing and we need to review our services provided to the league.”

Those who are well aware of how far Ugandan club football has gone down the rabbit hole remain sceptical. Feel free to include your columnist in this subset. Indeed, the mistake is in imagining that an iron will to defeat whatever ails club football exists. 

The bouts of inaction that greeted watershed moments – such as the emergence of the so-called ‘Arrow Boys’ after the turn of the second millennium – seem to have turbocharged the decline in trust. And it is not just findings from that 2003 inquest into match-fixing that have never seen the light of day. Magogo also chose to keep his cards close to the chest after having a second bite at the cherry.

The stench from last week’s abandoned game in Arua might not be as offensive as that from SC Villa’s 22-1 mauling of Akol, but it is just as petrifying. It will lose Ugandan club football friends it badly needs. One KCCA fan told your columnist that he is likely to be scarred for life. Any trip to Arua is now off the table for him. His fears – taken together with those of others – create little warmth for sports tourism in Uganda. 

Trips to places like Arua, Jinja, and Fort Portal during Uganda Premier League matchdays are now menacingly close to being doomed to irrelevance. Why bother? What with unremittingly bitter experiences highly probable!

In the aftermath of what transpired at the Greenlight Stadium, there was a good deal of cynicism about Fufa’s motivations. Such was the emotional tenor of submissions across different social media that some even accused Fufa of profiting from shenanigans. Shocking, yes, but there is no shortage of telltale signs. 

What I witnessed at the Kyamate Playground during the Uganda Cup final in 2016 was as shocking as anything anyone could ever encounter. Robert Donney turned in a refereeing display that left many numb with dismay. Most strikingly of all, perhaps, this was not the first time the controversial referee was using his whistle so recklessly.

Donney would go on to make a mockery of the rules-based order after being rewarded for his incompetencies. In case you forgot, he was part of the entourage that manically welcomed Magogo from a Fifa suspension in 2019.

Examples of Fufa acting like a Wild West cannot be exhausted. KCCA recently made known the fact that the local football governing body has not responded to its qualms about SC Villa including Oscar Mawa and Isma Mugulusi on its roster. The two youngsters have rolling contracts with KCCA. More grave sins have been committed with impunity.

And, just to be clear, the status quo will not change in 2022. The beat will go on and on and on. 
Happy New Year, regardless!

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @robertmadoi