16 June 2017

Namibia: Geingob Berates NFA

President Hage Geingob told the Namibia Football Association on Thursday to resolve the ongoing disputes in football during their meeting at State House.

What was meant to be a meeting to update the President on progress in navigating the deplorable state of football in the country turned out to be nothing more than an attempt by the NFA to mask the root of the problem.

The NFA failed to demonstrate to the President that a solution to the long-running feud, involving the NFA, several Namibia Premier League (NPL) clubs and two members of the "illegal" NPL interim management committee had been found, and that competitive football was going to be restored.

NFA president Frans Mbidi, the federation's secretary general Barry Rukoro and ad hoc committee member Evaristus Evaristus made up the NFA delegation to State House.

Essentially, yesterday's engagement with Geingob only served to further highlight how desperately dysfunctional football administration remains.

There still is no indication on if or when the Namibia Premier League will kick off, while the sponsorship negotiations are no nearer to panning out as a result of the never-ending strife amongst administrators.

Giving an analogy of a footballer whose life had been turned upside down by administrators' continued infighting, Geingob said he would not get involved, but wanted to see a swift end to the disputes.

"We've started a blame game now. Even the head of state is to blame. Namibians are good at creating their our own crises and blaming other people," Geingob stated.

"When are we going to start if we are quarrelling amongst ourselves? Why are these infightings so much? We don't look at the bigger goal.

"The kids are on the streets. Just because we are quarrelling up there, these small people are suffering.

"I'm glad you came to brief me. But the solving of the problem is in your hands," he said.

The sporting quagmire is of grave concern as it affects socio-economic conditions in the country, Geingob said.

"If young people are running around in the streets because there is no football, it affects my other purposes of maintaining peace and addressing poverty. Unemployment is going to be very high, crime will be high, and the country becomes ungovernable," he stated.

MISINFORMING THE NATION

Central to the dispute is the NFA's decision to dissolve the NPL interim committee, which was created at an extra-ordinary meeting held after Johnny Doëseb resigned in February, and they replaced it with the NFA ad hoc committee in April.

Mbidi maintained that the NFA had acted within football's governing framework. This assertion is being contested by several leading clubs.

Ad hoc committee member Evaristus said the NFA had not objected to the formation of the interim committee when they informed Rukoro of their existence.

Sport minister Jerry Ekandjo questioned why the NFA had allowed an illegitimate structure to represent the NPL at State House in March. He instructed the NFA to address its issue before any commitments are entered into with sponsors.

"If they were illegal, why did you bring them here [to State House]? You were here together," he said.

Mbidi sidestepped the question, and instead dismissed those opposed to the NFA's involvement in the NPL's management as "insignificant", and "bringing the game into disrepute".

"If you are a member of a body and do not understand the laws of that body, you don't belong anywhere near that body and cannot violate the laws of that body," he said.

Mbidi also accused the media of bias, of misinforming the nation, and blowing the issue out of proportion. He said at no point did the NFA attempt to hijack the operations or sponsorship talks of the NPL.

"We don't have time for that," he claimed.

The ad hoc committee has revised the NPL constitution, which is subject to Fifa approval, and will be up for adoption during an extraordinary meeting next month which would chart the way to electing a new leadership, said Evaristus.

SWALLOW YOUR PRIDE

Once a substantive leadership is in place, only then will negotiations with sponsors be able to move forward as sponsors were unwilling to enter into any agreement with a temporary structure, he explained.

"The only thing that is hindering us to move forward with regards to kicking off with the league is feedback from who we would consider our main sponsor [MTC]. Once that has kicked in, we should then engage the other two sponsors [First National Bank and Namibia Breweries Limited], which is all dependent on the main sponsor giving a form of written feedback," Evaristus said.

Geingob said just like the ruling party went back on its decision, following arbitration, to expel youth leaders Elijah Ngurare, Job Amupanda, Dimbulukeni Nauyoma and George Kambala last year, the NFA should consider a similar route if it has misinterpreted its own rules.

"In the interest of those at grassroots level, our national team and our country, please go and discuss your differences. There's nothing impossible. If you are wrong, you are wrong," he stressed.

"Learn from this man [Geingob]. When it comes to national issues, your personal feelings must be put aside. It doesn't mean it's a dead-end. Swallow the pride. We all do that, and we build this nation," Geingob noted.

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