The on-going UPL clubs‘ hide ‘n seek with FUFA has taken center stage since reaching a new zenith recently when the federation announced the end of the 2019/20 football season.
As the debate gained momentum with a series of truth or dare challenges to and from both sides of the argument, a new twist emerged when some clubs petitioned the Minister of Education and Sports citing unfair treatment and, or requesting for a financial bailout from a federation they claim to have gotten COVID-relief monies from FIFA and CAF respectively.
In the heat of the moment, Uganda Premier League (UPL), summoned the clubs for a season review and next season preview meeting. This move is said to have been vehemently disputed by some clubs (if the protest letter is believed to be authentic) but UPL CEO Bernard Bainamani insisted they must appear lest they “face the wrath of the law.”
The meeting went ahead with 9 clubs which included, among others, SC Villa, Vipers, KCCA, Police, MYDA, and “Busoga United” (in quotes because the club supremo, Mrs. Nyago, distanced herself from the named representatives) but 7 absconded. That is all besides the story though… too many a football follower, the question remains, how did it all degenerate to this?
The UPL, formed in 2015, traces its roots to 1982 when Express’ Jimmy Mugambe Kiwanuka (the father of current boss Kiryowa Kiwanuka), Coffee’s Jimmy Bakyaita Ssemugabi and KCC’s Jack Ibaale inspired the formation of the Super Division Clubs Association (SDCA).
The then FUFA boss Peter Abe created a super 10 league in 1982 relegating 6 clubs including 1981 Uganda Cup winners Coffee SC and also declared a standard transfer fee of 200,000/= plus a 10% charge on each effected move. Despite winning that season league unbeaten and having a bitter feud with KCC (following his recruitment of Jimmy Kirunda and Yusuf Ssonko), Villa chief Patrick Kawooya also supported the move in front of line minister Dr. James Rwanyaraare and the end result led to the installation of Caleb Babihuga as Abe’s replacement.
The association was a strong advocate for the clubs’ rights until 1995 when then FUFA president Twaha Kakaire led the removal of its defacto head Dennis Obua.
The move proved fateful for the Hajji because the force that became “Mr. Football” eventually deposed him in 1998 with unforgettable chants of “Kakaire, Kakaire” on a popular radio station leading the hate campaign.
Fast forward to 2008, there was a similar meeting some clubs shunned but again in 2009, under Col. Jackson “Bell” Tushabe, one meeting unanimously stung Express’ Kavuma Kabenge for petitioning the high court through Muwema & Mugerwa Company Advocates. Being then-president Lawrence Mulindwa’s VP, Col. Bell was obviously pro-FUFA.
“We definitely support the idea because advocating for football development”, added the Victors’ boss, “but the process used is unacceptable and the timing of the petition threatens the FUFA elections and league kick-off”.
Come 2011, under the Uganda Super League of Kavuma Kabenge, his once-upon-a-time allies sided with the FA and the result was a parallel league impasse which eventually led to the collapse of Kabenge’s USL and consequently brings about the FUFA Super League (FSL) following the Jinja Declaration fully supervised by FIFA envoy Ashford Mamelodi.
Today, as the clubs fight for their purported rights, it’s also important to note that the mandate they got was withdrawn in a charter duly signed by leaders of the same clubs.
It is the same charter that gave FUFA the right to preside over the proceedings.
Unless they follow a similar procedure and, or deny involvement in the initial arrangements, disputing the FA’s plans to develop the game by law is right but not okay (a treacherous act) especially to those who wholesomely participated in creating the status quo.
The clubs ought to know that, just like thumbprints, our paths are different… never put your club on the pressure to match the actions of those around you (you might crash and burn!)