Sports minister Agnes Tjongarero recently wrote to Fifa secretary general Fatma Samoura, informing the world’s football governing body that the Namibian government will push ahead with its efforts to resolve the ongoing standoff between the Namibia Football Association (NFA) and the Namibia Premier League (NPL), despite Fifa’s recent threats to suspend Namibia.
Last week, Fifa wrote to the NFA to express its unhappiness with the appointment of the committee of eminent persons (CEP) – an independent committee installed by the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) to help investigate and come forth with recommendations that will help kick start local football and bring about lasting peace between the NFA and NPL. Fifa warned that should government through the CEP continue to intervene in football affairs, Namibia runs the risk of being suspended from international participation and all other related Fifa membership benefits.
But Tjongarero remains unfazed by Fifa’s threats and maintains that Namibia is a sovereign state with its laws and a Sports Act that governs all local sports federations – and the NFA is no exception to the rules governing Namibian sports. Tjongarero reminded Samoura that as a ministry they have a national mandate to transform and create sustainable jobs through sports, particularly through football, and as a result, it is incumbent upon her ministry to intervene to help salvage the future of the country’s youth.
“Football is a significant part of any nation’s culture and social upliftment. The power of football in society is on display every day around the world. It is a game that brings people together, inspires generations and promotes team spirit. In this regard, Namibia is no exception. Our ministry has been set a target of contributing 2% to the employment rate of the country by 2022 and naturally, football as the biggest sport code of our country should be at the forefront of our developmental initiatives…therefore, as custodian of sport in Namibia, it cannot be expected of us to remain idle in the face of this debilitating impasse. Fifa’s purported affront to interference in football matters is well-publicised and as a government, we recognise the respect that we must have for Fifa Statutes. However, in this instance Fifa will be well advised to draw the line between interference and interventions to safeguard our national sovereignty,” said Tjongarero.
She continued: “Madam Samoura, it is important to remind Fifa that following the much-publicised fallout between the previous executive committee of NFA, the Namibian government through the minister responsible for sport, sought Fifa intervention to restore order. This then culminated in a Fifa appointed committee tasked with administering the NFA. Thus, our writing to you is nothing out of the ordinary. The situation of football in Namibia is not a zero-sum game. As such, our request for formal and constructive engagements on this issue still stands.”