Timo Shihepo in Windhoek and Tadious Manyepo in Harare
Windhoek - Boardroom squabbles have once more plagued Namibian football, resulting in the uncertainty of the Namibian Premier League (NPL), subsequently plunging the hopes of 700 footballers into the ditch.
This comes as top football brains are set to gather in Zimbabwe this Friday for a high-level symposium. Pertinent football issues affecting the game in the SADC region are up for meticulous scrutiny in a two-day international symposium which kicks off in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
In Namibia, the crisis bedeviling football in the country was confirmed last week Wednesday when the Namibia Football Association (NFA) Normalisation Committee suspended the NPL for bringing football into disrepute.
Normalisation Committee Chairperson Hilda Basson-Namundjebo stated that during a meeting on 1 October 2019, the committee, appointed by FIFA, resolved to suspend the NPL in view of its persistent and continued disregard and violation of directives issued by the Namibia Football Association.
The suspension is effective immediately, from 2 October 2019, and will be enforced under the NFA statutes cited in Article 14. 1 which reads “The Executive Committee may, however, suspend a member that seriously violate its obligations as a member with immediate effect. The suspension shall last until the next Congress, unless the Executive Committee has lifted it in the meantime.”
The NFA manual on rules and regulations, reiterate that according to Rule 3 of the NFA under 3.1.1 “the Premier League will consist of sixteen (16) or any other number of clubs as decided by the NFA Executive.
“The directive was highlighted in a letter dated 27 June 2019 in referring to Article 9 ( Principle of promotion and relegation ) of the regulation governing the application of the FIFA statutes which highlights the need for “sporting merit” when determining a club’s participation in a league as far as it relates to the promotion and relegation of clubs. This must be the guiding principle,” Basson-Namundjebo said.
“Again, FIFA on 21 August 2019, a letter from the Deputy Secretary General of Administration stated that, ignoring decisions from the NFA would leave the NPL vulnerable to potential sanctions as foreseen in Article 13 par. 2 of the NFA Statutes.”
These articles state that “members must comply fully with statutes, regulations, directives and decisions of FIFA, CAF, COSAFA and the NFA at all times and to ensure that these are respected by its members”.
The NPL is duly notified that as a consequence of this suspension, it’s membership rights are lost as stipulated by Article 14.3 and that as a consequence are to have no sporting contact with any NFA members.
MTC gives an ultimatum
Meanwhile, NPL main sponsor, Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC), have signaled a warning to the two parties saying a solution should be found before 21 October.
MTC had earlier written to NPL expressing their concerns over the developments.
“Given these developments, and the negative brand reputation concerns we highlighted in our previous correspondence, MTC hereby gives the NPL 14 days to amicably resolve this standoff between itself and FIFA Normalisation Committee on all matters that are prohibiting the commencement of the league season, failure which MTC will reconsider its sponsorship and communicate such to the NPL.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the 14 days will end at midnight on 21 October 2019,” MTC’s chief human capital and corporate affairs officer, Tim Ekandjo, said in a letter to the NPL.
Football in this part of the world has been bedevilled by various ills which has affected its growth.
The region has lagged behind in almost every regard and has virtually failed to realise its full potential.
Rarely have teams from Southern Africa, including national teams, consistently done well on the international front.
And, out of stakeholders’ will to address this, the Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League (ZPSL) decided to pull resources together and convene this meet with a view to discuss these issues on a broad spectrum.
With the green-light from the world soccer governing board, FIFA, CAF and COSAFA, the ZPSL decided to call representatives and presenters from all these institutions.
FIFA has delegated their Safety and Security manager Lee Davidson, who is set to deliver lectures on managing security and safety at sport events.
In a region where hooliganism has reared its ugly head, the topic will be invaluable for regional football leaders for the immediate future.
Davidson is an acclaimed security and safety expert who managed the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Prior to joining FIFA, Lee worked in sports ground safety and security in both operational stadium management and strategic policy roles in cricket and football.
Davidson joins other football experts who include chief legal officer of the Swiss Football League, Marc Juillerat, general legal counsel for the South African Premier Soccer League, Michael Murphy, World Leagues Forum general secretary, Jerome Perlemuter, and the LaLiga Global Network delegate in South Africa, Enrique Suay.
ZPSL spokesperson Kudzai Bare expressed confidence the symposium will achieve its mandate.
"We have invited the best possible personnel to deliver lectures at the symposium. It is not a secret that Zimbabwe, in particular and the region in general have lagged behind in terms of development of the game,” said Bare.
“We thought we can address this by holding this symposium at a crucial time like this. The regional leagues are on FIFA international break and we had to take this opportunity to discuss issues affecting football in this region. We need to do more as a country, as a region and as a continent to make our game better.
“It is against this background that we decided to invite several experts in different fields in the game to grace the occasion. We are positive that it will go well.”