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My candid view - The misplaced thinking of Fifa

2020-10-09  Otniel Hembapu

My candid view - The misplaced thinking of Fifa

With very keen interest, I have been following the dialogue between sports minister Agnes Tjongarero and Fifa secretary general Fatma Samoura and what has particularly grabbed my attention is Fifa’s unfathomable old-fashioned and equally worrisome one-way style of dialogue. 

With Fifa, the approach is either you do as it says or face the consequences of suspension and possible expulsion.
That kind of approach, as far as my knowledge and basic understanding of communication is concerned, amounts to pure dictatorship and does little to remedy the many standoffs currently being witnessed globally among the many football associations. 
For starters, the problem of Namibian football did not start with the Namibia Premier League (NPL) or the Namibia Football Association (NFA) wanting to start a breakaway league out of the blue or simply them not wanting to play football, it is bigger than that and it all started with a simple issue of relegation and promotion.

As per the demands of the then Fifa Normalisation Committee (NC), who demanded the league reinstate relegated clubs, it was never going to be that simple as it meant the NPL had to go back and amend their constitution in order to accommodate relegated teams as part of the new season, because without amending its constitution, it would have been illegal and against every fiber of fair play for the league to re-admit relegated teams.

Fast forward, a simple issue of relegation and promotion was then quickly turned into a battleground for predatory tribalists and political bloodsuckers, who unashamedly seized the unfortunate football chaos and used it as an opportunity to score cheap points at the expense of the players. 

As we all have seen by now, Fifa’s intervention in the matter has not yielded any fruits because of Fifa’s one-way approach of not listening to both sides of a story before pronouncing itself. 
Fifa’s one-sided approach to resolving football fights lack all ingredients of natural justice.
In her letter to Samoura, Tjongarero stressed the importance of dialogue between the NPL and NFA as that is the only way to ensure Namibian football does not return to the same place of inactivity again. But it seems Samoura and Fifa are convinced otherwise. 
Let’s be honest, the problems in Namibia were never created by politicians or by the minister, football leaders created them and they caused all this damage. So what makes Fifa and Samoura think that Tjongarero and government want to interfere in football matters as if they had any interest in the issue from the onset? And when does one separate intervention from interference anyway? Is it only Fifa that gets to decide what is intervention and what is interference?  

Even if Fifa succeeds in bulldozing its way to start football, two or three years from now Namibian football will return to the very same place of inactivity. 
Why do I say so? Because peace and stability attained outside the confines of dialogue and mutual understanding is unsustainable and won’t last, trust me! 

On one hand, the NFA is trying to hastily start a league with 10 or so clubs but those 10 clubs the NFA claim to have are currently engulfed in personal fights and highly divided. 
Is such a league going to last?  Is such a league going to bear the fruits we all want to see? Is the NFA and the 10 clubs even technically and financially ready to get the ball rolling? Do they have the players? I’m just asking…
On the other hand, the NPL says it is ready to start a professional league and bring Namibia on par with her regional neighbours as far as professionalising the game is concerned. 

But one also has to also ask, how will the NPL run a fully-functioning professional league without a working relationship with the NFA? 
How will the NPL ensure our referees and all other supporting staff and systems are in place and up to date without coordinating with the NFA? 

So, all these scenarios tell us that both the NFA and NPL need each other for Namibian football to flourish but that much-needed come together can only be achieved through dialogue and mutual understanding, not through dictatorship and one-way dialogue.
What I have personally come to discover is that Fifa continues to rely on its strong enforcement mechanisms and unplumbed transnational private authority, which continues to undermine countries sovereignty and wishes of the natives, as opposed to applying civil regulations and other engaging soft laws.

It still amazes me as to why has Fifa been allowed to successfully occupy a regulatory space that could have belonged to public authorities, given the importance of football as a socio-economic activity? Also, how is it possible that a private not-for-profit organisation with headquarters in Switzerland is able to claim and maintain its autonomy from sovereign public authorities?
The whole Fifa setup is just a joke if you ask me. Apparently governments the world over should report and account to Fifa at all times, but on the flipside, Fifa will not account nor report back to the very same governments, who are supposed to be regarded and respected as Fifa stakeholders. 
Until next time, sharp sharp!!

2020-10-09  Otniel Hembapu

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