Big League Drama: Now Monkeys Invade The Animal Farm

The curtains were yesterday drawn on the 2013-2014 season of the FUFA Big League, Uganda’s second tier national football competition.

Lweza FC from the Rwenzori Group and Elgon Group’s Sadolin Bugembe deservedly gained automatic qualification for the next season’s elite Uganda Premier League while Baza Holdings FC, KJT and Jinja SS and FUFA president Moses Magogo’s side Mutundwe Lions Football Club will go into the playoffs to determine the last team to replace CRO, Masaka LC and Proline FC which were relegated from the recently concluded FUFA Super League.

Mutundwe Lions leading marksman Paul Mucureezi in action against The Saints recently.
Mutundwe Lions leading marksman Paul Mucureezi in action against The Saints recently.

This season’s big league was fairly organized, with teams exhibiting serious competitiveness and actually by the end of the first round and start of the second round, almost six teams were in contention for the playoffs.

The biggest surprise lot were Mukono-based the Saints FC who after finishing fifth in the first round, put up a spirited fight, winning their first five matches on the bounce. Remember this has been their maiden season in the Big League.

And if the status quo had been maintained, this year’s Big League season would have gone down history books as peaceful and trouble-free considering that the last seasons since the competition’s inception in 2010 have been dogged by scandals.

However, the ghosts bedeviling Ugandan football were awoken in the final bend of the big league season when the FUFA Competition’s Committee (FCC) did the unthinkable by docking teams of points for fielding ‘ineligible’ players in the first round in contravention of Article 19 Paragraph 9 of the FUFA Competitions Rules.

The dockings were in response to a petition by The Saints FC against Lweza FC for playing Saad Kibirango despite he not having sat out any game after bagging three yellow cards as demanded by Paragraph 8 of the same article.

I will not swell so much on the dockings because there has been general consensus that they were done in bad faith and with the hidden intention to catapult the president’s men from middle table were they were languishing to the playoffs— where they now are anyway.

Whether the cases Mutundwe had against other teams were genuine is only known to Mutundwe owners and FCC competitions secretary Ali Mwebe since they are the guys in authority, better described as the jurors and adjudicators.

Perhaps most disheartening is that when FUFA lawyer Muhammad Bazirengedde’s side Artland Katale FC complained about the flawed manner in which he had been docked points in favour of Mutundwe Lions, the FCC’s response was that his petition was time-barred as it had not been done within 48 hours. Many of us found this assertion not only lame but also reeking of double standards and shadiness that has characterized FCC.

How on earth had they quickly forgotten that they docked teams points for games that had been played in the first round—
Almost six months later! This scenario can only highlight how far the big league has in the second round turned into the animal farm where all animals (read teams) are equal but some more equal than others. It is for instance unfathomable how the president’s team profited most from all the disciplinary decisions— bagging nine ‘lazy, boardroom’ points in the process.

As some of us were still dizzy from the dockings that some FCC gurus unofficially accepted were unnecessarily done in retrospection, last week there emerged a communication threatening The Saints with forfeiture of points for fielding Ivan Okot yet he belongs to Kyambogo University FC.

Remember Okot was the same player for which the Saints were docked a point after being fielded against Lweza in the first round. As honorably as they have acted in previous decisions against them, The Saints hierarchy professionally accepted to pay the shs0.5m fine that is the other alternative. Invoking article 28 of the FUFA Standing Committee Rules, FCC secretary (also secretary FUFA Players Status committee) Ali Mwebe wrote to The Saints on March 2, 2014 notifying them of their fate.
There is totally no crime in Mwebe writing to the Saints but what’s questionable is why this latter is cropping up at this time yet it was filed with FUFA on October 22, 2013 by Kyambogo FC secretary R. Ojambo.

I cannot go so much into details but my humble advice to FCC is that they should be very fair and transparent in their decisions because the higher a monkey climbs in a bid to show its prowess, the more it exposes its behind. Happy playoffs and I pray that the weaknesses highlighted set a ground for betterment next season.

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