27 December 2012

Uganda: USL Should Keep Players Out of Football Politics


Before we went into the holidays, news broke that Cranes and URA striker Robert Ssentongo hadn't received his car prize, part of the package for winning the 2011/2012 Bell Lager football awards best player category.

On the same ocasson, the best player of the season also walked away with a plot of land and a cheque of Shs 3.5 million. Ssentongo confirmed that it's only the car he hasn't received. Now the Uganda Super League (USL) finds itself in a real spot of bother six months after that event. This revelation has created uproar as much as it has led to divided opinions from some people associated with the USL.

First, Dennis Mbidde, whose company, Worldwide Marketing, were in charge of organising the event, says he was short of money to get Ssentongo his car. But James Ssekandi, the USL's publicist, says that because Ssentongo's club, URA FC, plays in the rival Fufa Super League (FSL), there was no way the USL would hand him his car prize because in business sense it brings USL and its sponsors no mileage.

In terms of business and all its brand complexities, Ssekandi makes a lot of sense. But then again, the fact that both Ssekandi and Mbidde have different answers for the same question leaves me suspicious. Guys, who's fooling who? Nevertheless, Ssentongo should receive his car. There is no reason why Ssentongo should be punished for something he has no control over.

Ssentongo, like any contracted player, has to play football wherever URA chooses to. So, it's diabolical for the USL to hold onto Ssentongo's prize and this should be a lesson to all football administrators to keep the players away from their politics and personal vendettas. This isn't different from Fufa's decision to snub USL players for The Cranes call-ups.

Such underhandedness in Fufa and the USL is stooping low and is a sign of petulance. However, URA just exposed themselves. The Deed of Adherence, a contract between USL clubs and their sponsors, spells it out clearly that if a club doesn't keep its side of the bargain, it ceases to benefit from the commercial rights in the contract.

Since URA chose to leave the USL, why does it still demand for the privileges accorded to USL members? That's double standards and inconsistency.

Otherwise, happy New Year to you all!

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