Drama Lives on in Ugandan Soccer
One wonders how much of these unnecessary dramas Uganda soccer lovers will bear, or when the league will stablise
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First published: September 27, 2011
The 2011/2012 Bell Uganda Super League season kicked off on 9th September as usual full of drama that is often associated with the Ugandan game of football. Fracas ensued on kick off day of the League when out of the six fixtures scheduled on that day only three were honored. This was as a result of the wrangles involving the Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA) and the Super League governing Committee- Uganda Super League Limited (USLL).
Following the disagreement over the way the Super League Committee headed by a renown city Lawyer Kavuma Kabenge was conducting the Super League business; FUFA directed the league kick-off to be postponed till USLL puts its house in order. The USLL insisted the matches would continue as planned. This divided the Clubs into factions: those loyal to FUFA and those allied with USLL. FUFA seem to have attracted only four clubs; Obviously Bunamwaya FC owned by the FUFA President Lawrence Mulindwa, Proline FC owned by Mujib Kasule, Conel Bell’s Victors FC and new comers BIDCO. The other 12 members sided with USLL.
A day before the kick-off, FUFA had warned that any club that participates in the League risked a heavy punishment and this brought confusion among clubs and their respective fans. In some of the scenarios, at Bugembe stadium, army side Simba travelled all the way from Bombo to Jinja only to find the stadium guarded as if the Pope was to visit the area making their fixture against Hoima-Busia counseled. Further drama ensued at Namboole when BIDCO remained glued in the stands of the stadium when their opponents Water FC were on the pitch ready for the tie, which act prompted the fans who were seemingly awaiting the big one involving URA and Express FC to subject to some serious canes.
Some of the fans that had come to watch the Hoima - Simba game.
The relationship between FUFA and USLL worsened to an extent that His Excellence the Vice President Edward Ssekandi and National Council of Sports General Secretary Jasper Aligawesa had to intervene and try to arbitrate the two sides.
Analysts however say that the huge sums of money that Super Sport, Uganda Breweries and Eco Bank sunk in the League is the hidden cause of the whole fracas. This is not the first time that Uganda soccer witnesses unsavoury drama as a peek into some of the unforgatable incidents shows.
2005, shortly after the post Denis Obua FUFA Regime
On the directive of the then Minister of Education and Sports Hon. Namirembe Bitamazire, Denis Obua’s FUFA government was over thrown and consequently a normalization Committee with the same Kavuma Kabenge as the Secretary was set up to take charge of the League pending elections of the new FUFA government. Allegedly due to a limited time, contrary to the rules governing League competitions world wide, the Committee decided to organize a league on a knock-out basis. In any meaningful league championship, participants have to play equal number of games but it wasn’t the case of Uganda’s League as some teams only played one game. Police FC was crowned champions after a 3-1 victory in sport kicks over SC Villa. The game had ended goalless in the 90 minutes.
Was it a league championship or a knock out tournament like Uganda Cup, Kings Cup in Spain and FA Cup in England!
2003, under Obua’s FUFA Regime
This is the time when drama in the Ugandan game of football reached its apex. In one of the infinity nasty scenarios, arch –rivals Express FC and SC Villa reached the final fixture of the League tied on points with a slim goal difference separating them. SC Villa was hosting AKOL FC at Namboole while Express was to take on the defunct TOP TV FC at Nakivubo stadium. SC villa did make a goal galore record when they white washed their opponent 22 -1 while the Express- Top TV encounter aborted in the opening minutes with Express FC controversially leading 2-nill courtesy of the referee’s decisions on that day. Upon sensing the likely cricket score after the 90 minutes, TOP TV coach Sam Ssimbwa ordered his players to get off the pitch.
It alleged that on that day while the Akol players were traveling to Namboole, some of the senior members of the team escaped from the bus at Mattuga, one of the suburbs of Kampala. This was after learning that some of their colidges had pocketed a bribe from SC Villa to give away the game. Only six players reached Namboole stadium and they were later joined by another two to make a team of eight players that swallowed the 22 goals with Hakim Magumba netting six on that day. A Committee was later instituted to investigate the results of the two games but shockingly one of the Akol players who had been summoned to testify passed away while on the way. Villa was crowned champions but Sponsors Nile Breweries opted to pull out and that was the final straw that led to the down fall of Obua’s FUFA government.
2011, David Obua throws ashirt to his technical bench in protest
Just recently in the month of May this year 2011, Cranes king pin player David Obua, did serve the full to capacity 45,000 seater Namboole stadium with another un paid for drama in presence of the Vice president and Prime Minister in the stands. The Scottish based midfielder after a bad game, Obua removed his shirt no-13 and threw it at his technical bench in protest of his substitution. Coach Bobby Williamson had replaced him with Geoffrey Sserunkuma in the 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifiers against Guinea Bissau.
After the act, Obua majestically worked straight to the dressing room and sat in the corner where his team mates joined him after the 2-nil victory. The following day, escorted by fellow senior players Andy Mwesigwa and team Captain Ibrahim Ssekajja organized a press conference and apologized to the nation. He was forgiven by the Football governing federation FUFA, but their decision resulted into a hot debate among the fans agitating for the same amnesty to be accorded to the likes Batabaire Timothy Dan Wagaluka and Mike Sserumaga ( by press time he had been pardoned and was summoned for the Kenya game), whose torts committed seemed minor compared to Obua’s.
1991 under the reign of John Ssemanobe
The Federation of Uganda Football Association under the reign of John Ssemanobe as the President, controversially crowned KCC FC as the League Champions for 1991 Season. The Kasasiro boys were running neck to neck with rivals SC Villa for League title, but the former was declared as the League Champions when 15 percent of the league fixtures was yet to be played. FUFA utilized the loopholes in then rules that were governing the Uganda Super League.
There was a clause that was mandating FUFA to declare any team leading the table as a champion if 75% of the fixtures had been played. FUFA was allegedly in harry to prepare the national team the Cranes for the regional CECAFA Championship that was due. The decision didn’t only aggravate the rivalry between SC Villa and KCC FC but also created an adversarial relation ship between the Federation and SC Villa.
So one wonders how much of these unnecessary dramas Uganda soccer lovers will bear, or when the league will stablise.
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First published: September 27, 2011
Ramathan Kasozi is a member of Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd. . A graduate Journalist, Kasozi has more than 5 years experience reporting on sports in Uganda for different print and broadcast media houses.