• March 29th, 2020

Opinion: Namibian football scored an own goal

It is no longer a secret that globally football is marred by an avalanche of controversies and scandals such as corruption, maladministration, fraud, power struggles and many a time outright incompetence by those entrusted to smoothly run the game for the benefit of the masses.

Here at home in Namibia we have witnessed and endured our fair share of the abovementioned calamities, especially within the corridors of the country’s national football association and its elite affiliate the Namibia Premier League (NPL).

The interim leadership (Fifa-appointed Normalisation Committee) of the Namibia Football Association (NFA), which is the country’s football presiding body, and its top associate NPL have been at loggerheads and in an endless catfight about how the new 2019/20 football season ought to start – with the NFA saying the premier league should reinstate relegated teams and include them in their 2019/20 season proceedings, something which the NPL labelled as unconstitutional and impractical.

The battle of egos and power between the two football entities continues unhindered despite numerous peace calls and warnings from local and global football stakeholders, including the media. But the NPL and NFA’s thirst for a boardroom victory one over the other seemed too big for them to realise the consequences of their actions.

The marathon boardroom tussle, which was disgracefully hallmarked by endless emails and a bunch of letters between the two, finally ended up in the Windhoek High Court and saw the NPL losing that round on grounds the court had no jurisdiction to look into the case. The NPL has since appealed the High Court judgement with the Supreme Court and the outcome of that appeal remains awaited.

In the midst of all the drama, the targeted beneficiaries and treasured assets of our football – the players – have immensely suffered and gone for months without putting food on their tables. The egos and power struggles of our local football administrators caused serious economic, emotional and physiological damage to local players and their prospects of playing football still remains bleak as there is no clear indication as to when football will return to our shores.

Not only have local footballers suffered financial and emotional ruin, the dogfight between NFA and NPL has significantly caused reputational damage to brands sponsoring football.

Being a man of letters in journalism, a profession that shares a very deep linage with other sister professions such as marketing and public relations, my simple understanding of businesses sponsoring a particular sport code or athlete is to increase the value or at least improve the perception of their (company) brands through association with concepts such as fair play, hard work, redemption, integrity, ethics and good governance.

I have time and again reminded in my various writings that sponsors do not want to be associated with controversies and scandals, especially where bad publicity and garnering of negative attention is the order of business. 

NFA and NPL, which both enjoy significant financial backing from the likes of Namibia Breweries, MTC, FNB Namibia, Namdia, Standard Bank Namibia, Debmarine Namibia and others, need to urgently realise that sponsors expect them to be official carriers of their brands and those brands should at all times shine in a positive light.

I don’t know if I should attribute it to sheer incompetence or lack of knowledge and skills, but both the NPL and NFA demonstrated more than once during their reprehensible standoff that the leadership of the two entities are in serious short supply of crisis-management strategies and skills. It has been evident and there for all to see.

When all is said and done, our footballers remain frustrated and financially stranded on the streets with nothing much to do, while the NFA and NPL bosses are effortlessly going about their daily lives in their various air-conditioned offices. 
I think it’s safe to say Namibian football has scored an own goal. Until next time, sharp sharp!!

Otniel Hembapu
2019-11-22 09:03:42 | 4 months ago

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