By Martin Kaddu
Social media has of recent awash with allegations of match fixing in Ugandan football. Just after a number premier league officials faced investigations over the allegations, the Cranes were also at it after losing 3-0 away to Tanzania in the last 2019 AFCON group L qualifier game.
Uganda went into the game unbeaten and was yet to concede. However, an altered line up and horror team performance prompted many Ugandan football lovers to think that there was foul play which FUFA vehemently denies as per FUFA President Eng. Moses Magogo’s statement. On Wednesday last week, premier league side Mbarara City issued a statement confirming the indefinite suspension of goal keeper Ali Kimera and goal keeping coach Yusuf Ssenyonjo. Kimera was at fault for the Ankole Lions’ 2-0 away league loss to SC Villa at Namboole Stadium. Firstly, he chipped the ball straight to Albert Mugisa, who scored Villa’s opening goal before spilling a tame low cross from John Adriko on which Ronald Magwari pounced to tap in the second. Mbarara City captain Hilary Mukundane believes it was a bad day in office for his teammate but club CEO Fred Mugalu, in a statement, said that the suspension was handy due to the widespread of match fixing allegations from fans and several stake holders. “As Mbarara City Football Club we do not condone such vices of match fixing and thus we can’t keep a deaf ear amidst all these allegations levelled against you. We do believe in honesty, integrity and transparency,” the statement partly read. And now, Pepper Sport’s Martin Kadducaught up with the club chairman and Western Member of parliament for youth Hon. Mwine Mpaka to dig more about the incident.
Qtn: Why did you suspend Ali Kimera?
Mpaka: It might not be so startling but it’s true that the very best players also make countless mistakes .This might be related to positioning, focus, not doing something as instructed by his coach etc. The reality is mistakes happen all the time. Kimera has been very exceptional on the pitch during various matches. Against SC Villa, the team played to its best but when accusations of match fixing arise, the management of any club will always try to avoid or ignore. However, this happened in an inkling, qualm and surmise fashion to say and therefore hard to ignore. Besides some clubs have dismissed players this season for match fixing without giving them fair hearings but our club is willing to investigate. So there isn’t anything wrong with this process. Much as it’s good to give sportsmen like Kimera the benefit of a doubt considering how he has contributed towards Mbarara City’s success, it’s more dangerous to ignore these accusations as we defend, preserve and insulate the club from this speculation and tension now and in the near future. Failure to investigate can cause attrition to the club’s image, harm to sponsor image, corrosion to all Mbarara City players and coaching staff reputations in the long run and financial loss due to despondency of club fans. Investigation could help clear the accused player(s) image and reputation if found innocent but most importantly, it sets standards. The belief or opinion that would generally be held about our club if no investigation is done to conclusion would have a social and financial impact to the club
Qtn: But the player is set to petition FUFA over destroying his future.
Mpaka: Mbarara City is bigger than Mwine Mpaka (it’s a symbol of pride to western Uganda). Therefore, I am willing to do anything for as long I am still the club chairman to protect the club’s image and reputation regardless of what people think. It is normal for anyone being investigated to step aside.
Qtn: Why did you take such a decision?
Mpaka: What happens to Mbarara City tomorrow depends on what we do today. Napoleon Bonaparte said: “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand”. Members of the board will be selected internally to help carry out the investigation. This is an internal investigation that we do not expect FUFA interfere with. It is also in the interest of FUFA that clubs can help fight this vice.
Qtn: Do your players get paid on time?
Mpaka: As an individual together with our sponsor, TopBet, and fans (gate collection), we manage to pay our players on time so this is not even an issue to talk about.
Qtn: You take fans’ word than coaches and other leaders?
Mpaka: A club without fans can’t attract a sponsor and without a sponsor I can’t run the club effectively alone. You should also know that the largest stakeholders in any club are fans, so I must mind their language but at the same time give guidance as a leader by taking decisions that will facilitate and protect the club’s survival socially and economically.