My candid view – Stop taking everything personal

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My candid view – Stop taking everything personal

I have been following with keen interest all developments around Namibia and Botswana’s ambitions to co-host the 2027 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), and I was quite surprised by how some government officials, especially those from the sports ministry and the Namibia Sport Commission, have been reacting to well-intended criticism.

First things first, no Namibian in his or her right mind would ever oppose an opportunity to see our country co-hosting Africa’s biggest football competition. 

It is no secret that hosting or co-hosting Afcon has far greater benefits than many would ever imagine and for that reason, it should be every Namibian’s dream to see the country co-hosting the continent’s premium football showpiece in 2027.

Important to mention is that hosting Afcon comes with great infrastructural boosts in terms of revamping road networks, IT facilities, stadiums and local hospitality amenities, as many tourists usually visit during that period.

Away from the infrastructural side of things, hosting Afcon also bolsters the host country’s arts and entertainment industries, amongst others. 

Afcon furthermore creates hundreds of seasonal jobs and crafts for the locals, and that leads to an immediate decline in the unemployment rate during the Afcon period alone.

Also, traditionally, the host country receives in excess of 20% of all revenue generated from the tournament, including tickets, television returns, advertisements on the pitch, to mention but a few.

There is, however, no denying that hosting a large-scale sporting event such as Afcon comes at a great cost. 

It involves years of planning and investment by the host country to ensure all necessary infrastructural work gets done in time and meets all international requirements.

The kind of investment into hosting Afcon is no doubt a daunting task for any country, as the country is expected to bear all costs related to the participating teams, including the internal transportation of the teams, referees, Caf president, Caf, its executive committee, secretary general as well as hundreds of other delegates.

However, countries still opt to host Afcon because they believe there will be positive economic and social spin-offs.

Now, having put the above positives and negatives into proper context, let me move on to provide further context to the rather misunderstood but well-intended criticism around Namibia’s plans to co-host the 36th edition of Afcon in 2027 with Botswana.

Local sports pundits did not rubbish the country’s ambitions to co-host the tournament. No, not at all! 

They, however, raised concern with the country’s deplorable state of sports infrastructure, and also the country’s fiscal capabilities in these economic trying times for almost all countries worldwide – specifically given the many socio-economic challenges Namibia currently faces, Covid-19 included.

What local sports experts are saying is we, as a country, should first take care of the basics before we attempt to bite more than we can chew by contesting to co-host the 2027 Afcon with dilapidated stadiums and a malfunctioning football fraternity.

And I agree. Namibia should first address the basic problems of infrastructure, rope in experts to do a thorough study of how the country stands to financially benefit from co-hosting Afcon, and also provide a comprehensive technical report on the long-term gains of co-hosting such an event. 

What local sports experts and journalists are demanding is to be provided with a comprehensive and well- researched roadmap on how the country will benefit from this ambitious endeavour. We are just demanding clear checks and balances.

I don’t think such reasonable demands are an attack on anybody, unless some officials are eyeing to use Namibia’s planned 2027 Afcon bid as another money-stealing scheme, as was the case with previous international competitions the country hosted. Or else, why personalise the issue? 

Until next time, sharp sharp!!