The StarTimes Uganda Premier League secretariat is in a dilemma as numerous players and coaches find it hard to associate with the match day and monthly awards that are sponsored by beer company Pilsner.
The UPL unveiled the brand at the start of last November as their new partners for the match day and monthly award for both players and coaches.
Less than a month after the announcement of the three-year Shs450M sponsorship, the secretariat is now facing a big challenge that they had not projected before.
A section of the players of the Muslim faith have turned down the awards together with the prize money because it’s against their religion.
KCCA striker Mike Mutyaba declined to accept the award after his performance against Nyamityobora that had him score a brace in the 6-1 victory before it was handed over to his teammate Timothy Awany.
“I cannot betray my God for just Shs100, 000/=,” Mutyaba was later heard telling some sections of his colleagues.
Balinya Juma scored a brace as his Police side defeated Mbarara City 3-1 but also declined to accept the award, interestingly his fellow Moslem teammate Hassan Kalega gladly accepted the award.
Balinya has without a doubt stood out in the month of November and was nominated alongside Paul Mucureezi of Mbarara City and Timothy Awany of KCCA FC. Balinya declared that he is not interested in the nomination.
“It’s really exciting to be a nominee and I feel I deserve to win but I love and respect my religion. So I will not be there but am glad my efforts are recognized,” Balinya posted on his Facebook page.
Mucureezi was on Monday announced as the Pilsner player of the month, a recognition that came with Shs1M in cash.
Police coach Abdallah Mubiru was also last week quoted by Kawowo Sports saying: “It’s a pleasure when you earn recognition and I thank UPL and everyone for the nomination. But due to my religious beliefs, I can’t associate with the awards sponsors and thus I opt out”.
When asked about the standoff of players and coaches of the Muslim faith turning down the awards because of their religious beliefs, UPL board chairman Arinaitwe Rugyendo stated.
“We are also very concerned but at the same time, we are in a catch 22 situation. We need the sponsors to keep the game running.”
“This league has been previously sponsored by betting firms and beer companies. It is a right of a person to withdraw. We are trying our level best to come up with a win-win situation,” Rugyendo added.
However some Moslem players like Hamza Muwonge (Bright Stars), Gadaffi Gadinho (Onduparaka) and Hassan Kalega (Police) have all accepted the award without hesitation.