So much has been said about the end of the 2019-20 Ugandan Football season as announced by the FUFA president in his Wednesday, May 20th address but looking in retrospect, the final decisions offer a plethora of throw back ingredients.
Sweet and, or sour as they may taste to different stakeholders, the bitter truth remains that it’s embedded in the DNA of Association Football. Followers of this platform already know by now that the Vipers SC 75% inspired championship is not new because KCCA FC benefited from the same rule as applied in 1991 albeit under more dubious circumstances since there was nothing close to a force Majeure (Act Of God) like the case of COVID-19 today.
SC Villa, the aggrieved party in 1991, count the 2003 championship among their 16 titles despite the fact that a commission of inquiry into the circumstances surrounding that season recommended it null and void. The federation then opted to spike the report by the now Justice Steven Kavuma despite the immense weight of the happenings i.e. “Arrow Boy” refereeing, fixed matches by both Villa and Express (the 22-1 demolition of AKOL by the former ranking the most scandalous) and the unfortunate demise of an AKOL goalkeeper who had been brought to testify. We shall expound more on this Villa-Express rivalry in our future articles.
Still with the winning team, their current coach Kajoba Fred is being mocked by some envious circles as not deserving the title because he handled a mere 6 games (W6 D2 L1) wanting instead to give it to his predecessor Edward Golola. That is not how football works though, otherwise, Mike Mutebi would not have waited till 2014 for his maiden title. He did most of the spadework in 1997 but the title went to Tom Lwanga who came took over after he was sacked following a draw with Telestar. Need I mention the 2006 Uganda Cup Kefa Kisala took with Express FC after George Ssimwogerere went for a coaching course in Germany?
Furthermore, this relegation will obviously hurt Proline and Maroons more than Tooro United because they had a more realistic chance of catching up on the pack ahead of them. But that feeling will pale into comparison with teams like Express (1977), Simba and Mbarara (1979) plus UGMA and Masaka Union (1985) who could not play due to national politics and wars while other teams continued with the league.
Express and Mbarara came back to reclaim their places in 1980 while Simba could only regroup in 1984 but the damage had already been done as a lot of water had passed under the bridge. Express had already given birth to SC Villa and lost influential players and officials while Mbarara faced an instant relegation. Simba also didn’t survive the 1985 season and only came back 10 years later following Paul Hasule’s intervention.
The other painful relegations happened in;
1981 – A whopping 7 teams were dropped to make the 1982 league a 10-team affair and the victims were Coffee, NIC, Lint, Nsambya, Mbale Heroes, Wandegeya, and Tea Millers.
1999 – Following a messed up 1998 Nile Special Super League where the 17 teams were grouped as Serie A (8 teams) and Serie B (9 teams), no team was relegated while Maji, UNNATO, Rwampara, Gulu United, Rockstars, and Idudi were promoted. The league eventually zeroed on a record 22 teams after Umeme opted out and it is this season that Jimmy Kirunda’s 32 goal record fell when Andrew Mukasa netted 45 goals. The brilliantly lethal youngster had actually amassed 51 goals but 6 were chopped off when Idudi was disqualified.
At the end of that season, the guillotine hit Maji, UNNATO, Posta, Pamba, Rwampara, Roraima, Gulu United, and Rockstars to leave only 12 teams before the promotion of UTODA, Mbarara United, Arua Municipal Council and UPDF.
On top of Umeme and Idudi’s 1999 predicaments, there have also been situations where some teams have withdrawn while others have either been suspended or expelled for various reasons.
The likes of Firemasters (2012), Moyo Town Council (2004), State House (2000), Arua Young (1996), Miracle Center (1995), Bank of Uganda (1990), Blue Bats (1988) and Tobacco (1986).
The latter was suspended for a year after allegedly fixing a league match against Uganda Airlines (winning it 12-0).
In conclusion, therefore, the federation or its football running shoes oftentimes step on a number of toes during their apparent execution of the mandate given to them by the constitution through the delegates assembly, and the story always remains, “you either associate or you don’t“.
Like the Philly Lutaaya lyrics go, “today it’s me, tomorrow it’s someone else”, sometimes even a judicial review or legal redress can not reverse a decision. Yours truly experienced it with the Spartans FC story and am very sure the same applies to the teams affected in the 2010 i.e. Boroboro Tigers, CRO, Kinyara Sugar Works, Maji, Hoima, Iganga and Arua Central.
I could go on and on, “the story has never been told”…
The writer is Tendo Musoke, a football administrator and journalist