Monday,October 21,2019 22:58 PM

Uganda Cranes’ strike raises more questions

By James Bakama

Added 8th July 2019 07:36 AM

In serious organisations, such controversies have far-reaching implications

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Cranes players went on strike before Friday's match against Senegal which ended in elimination from AFCON. AFP Photo

In serious organisations, such controversies have far-reaching implications

Uganda is one of those places where bad things happen and they are quickly forgotten.

At times it is just days before we forget some of those horrible things and simply move on.

A classic case is our just concluded Nations Cup outing that was undermined by a pay scandal.

True, we had an otherwise impressive outing highlighted by our eventual round qualification where we eventually lost to heavyweights Senegal.

But the pay scandal that had the Cranes players in a sit-down strike and coach Sebastien Desabre eventually also quitting will always serve as a sore point to our tournament.

Players were up in arms over what they described as unpaid qualification bonus amounting to as much as $10,000 per player.

There were even more cries over FUFA’s failure to fulfil even other financial obligations.

In serious organisations, such controversies have far-reaching implications.

It is in an almost similar spirit that the Egyptian Football Associations president and coach resigned at the weekend.

These are serious developments that call for serious action. That’s however not the case in Uganda. Don’t be surprised if by next week the strike is already forgotten!

Elsewhere, this kind of player discontent would be of very serious concern consequently raising a myriad of queries.

For instance, how does the country’s best-aided sports body fall short of its payment obligations?

FUFA got sh10bn from government specifically for the Nations Cup. By the way, these are public funds that require clear accountability.

The sh10bn was on top of a $250,000 (sh915m) preparatory grant from African body CAF.

Even if FUFA makes the unacceptable claim of this money being inadequate, what about the even bigger monies from tournament sponsor Total?

Losing at the round of 16 entitled Uganda a $1m (sh3.6bn) Total cheque. This would have each player pocketing sh160m if this money is strictly divided amongst the 23 players.

Therefore, what the players were crying out for was, in fact, a very small fraction of what was actually available!

And had the Cranes beaten the Lions of Terranga, they would be assured of a $2m (sh7.3bn) semi-final offer. That is over sh320m per player.

Compare that to the $5000 (sh18.3m) that FUFA was offering had the team advanced to the quarterfinals.

Equally paling in significance was the $7,000 (sh25.7m) FUFA was offering for winning the quarter-final.

The Total pay gets even sweeter at the final with a $4.5 (sh16. bn) winner’s prize while the runner-up gets $2.5m (sh9.1bn).

It would be interesting to know whether the players knew exactly what was at stake from the Total end.

You get the feeling that the players, who also happen to be the most important stakeholders, had no idea.

Could that be the reason why the FUFA bonuses were stipulated in the team code of conduct?

It seems someone didn’t want any disturbance the moment the Total money was released!

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