In the mafia underworld, one’s rise in the hierarchy is dependent on how loyal he is to the superiors as well as daring when sent for a mission.
Questioning authority is suicidal. That’s exactly how Moses Magogo has built the football structure we have today by infiltrating all forms of leadership and surrounding himself with yes-men who outcompete one another in gagging dissent.
To get to the bottom of this, take the 16-member Uganda Premier League (UPL), which is a permanent member of Fufa. However, due to Magogo’s dislike of club unity because as a unit they can question Fufa excesses, he created a UPL board drawn from loyalists, created a secretariat run by his long-term errand boy Bernard Bainemani, thereby stripping clubs of any powers to have a say as a unit.
In other words, for clubs to reach out to Fufa, they have to go through UPL board chairman Arinaitwe Rugyendo. He may also take away the rights of the clubs, just like he did when signing the StarTimes sponsorship deal without involving them.
To further alienate the clubs, the approval of a club CEO rests with Fufa, which first indoctrinates them to swear allegiance of heeding to its tunes. Then behind the scenes, Magogo approaches club bosses individually to create trade-offs that include striking deals on winning silverware or surviving relegation.
In all this, clubs as the most powerful force in the Fufa general assembly, have been thrown in the gutters. Take KCCA FC where its chairman Martin Ssekajja cannot challenge Fufa because he has to protect his salary. Meanwhile, Express is the new Fufa darling because its teeth have been pulled out. What they badly wanted was a trophy and got it.
Their leadership will never talk against Fufa anymore. As for Villa, it is now a public secret how Magogo has infiltrated and dispersed its leadership. Today, there is little motivation for a fan to go watch a domestic game. Football games are now like burial ceremonies.
When Magogo claims he raised the Fufa annual budget to Shs 40bn, one may think clubs take a lion’s share but in reality, they get nothing. Instead, Magogo and his ilk mask their corrupt ways by drumming up the national team to paint a picture of success.
The Cranes play an average of six matches a year yet in that period, club football has more than 300 games that are neglected.
Government should not just fold hands as the most powerful mobilization channel rots away at the hands of Magogo and his cronies. When President Museveni directly worked with Villa in 2016, it paid instant dividends in attracting sponsorship and fan following.
The youth, who are the biggest demography, can ably be accommodated and united in football to foster government poverty alleviation projects. Unfortunately, it would be Fufa’s worst nightmare to see empowered clubs.
Being a dissembler and social climber, the moment one gives their ear to Magogo at any level, they fall in his trap. That’s why all the great football investors have gone out of football because he will cunningly let you sink your money in football for him to legitimize his manipulative administration, and leave you to fend on your own afterwards.
That’s why you see the contradictions with the national league and The Cranes. So, it is time for clubs to rise and seek a collective link with government if Ugandan football is to come out of the abyss.
The author is Nyamityobora FC president