By Allan Damba
When the covid-19 pandemic struck in December 2019, a whole lot of businesses were put to halt, some partially recovered whereas many others are yet to resume, the world over.
Sports as a business was particularly affected and the effects of this deadly disease continue to eat up different disciplines including football.
Football in Africa was most hit after countries had put a stop to any such activities. This meant minimal or even zero revenue for most of the clubs across the continent and Uganda in particular.
The effects on the clubs stretched wider to hit the game’s biggest stakeholders, the players, the coaches and the staff who had to do with little or no payment whatsoever from their employers.
The world’s football governing body, FIFA had to come in, lend a hand and try to save the dire situation through grants to football federations in the hit-hard countries.
To Uganda, FIFA released USD1,000,000 in two batches to FUFA to help arrest the clubs’ money grievances.
Upon receipt of the first batch of USD500,000 during the first wave of the pandemic, FUFA distributed it out to the necessary beneficiaries including the UPL Secretariat, UPL clubs, Big league clubs, regions among others.
A 17th August 2020 circular signed by the FUFA Chief Executive Officer referenced, “Covid Grant appropriation” confirmed the distribution.
“The FUFA executive committee which sat Monday,17th August 2020 has approved the appropriation of the FIFA Covid-19 Relief Grant of USD 500,000 from FIFA,” read part of the circular.
That was before FIFA released the final batch of the relief of USD500,000 in December as confirmed by a club chairman who preferred anonymity.
“FIFA sent an initial USD 500,000 which FUFA gave to us(the clubs). Another USD 500,000 was released in December 2020 by FIFA but we are yet to see it.”
So, if more USD 500,000 covid-19 relief money was released and with clubs suffering from the second wave induced lockdown, what happened to it?
After a new lockdown was enforced in June 2021, UPL clubs inquired about whether they were to receive the other half of the relief funds but were shocked at the response from FUFA.
A FUFA letter with reference ‘FIFA Covid-19 relief grant to UPL clubs’ signed by the CEO Edgar Watson Suubi addressed to the Uganda Premier League Chief Executive Officer dated 30th June 2021 confirmed receiving inquiries from the latter body.
“Please refer to your letter dated UPL/01/27/06/2021 and dated 27th June 2021 in which you highlighted ongoing inquiries by UPL Club chairmen about the above grant.”
The letter asserts that the UPL clubs will not receive any other money from the one they got off the initial half of the grant.
“In a nutshell, henceforth the clubs received what was due for them in this regard as appropriated by the FUFA executive and copied to FIFA and no further funds should be expected directly under this arrangement,” concludes the letter.
This is what puzzles the clubs’ patrons and other stakeholders involved; if a full grant meant for Covid-19 was released, why should they receive from just the first batch? What happened to the rest of the money?
If it was allocated to different businesses within footballing circles by FUFA, isn’t this misallocation of funds? Why is FUFA silent about what the other USD 500,000 did?