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Uganda has missed a golden opportunity with Samoura

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Justus Mugisha (FUFA 1st Vice President), Fatma Samoura (FIFA Secretary-General), Edgar Watson (FUFA CEO) and Ahmed Hussein (FUFA Communications Director)

When Fatma Samoura, the Fifa Secretary General, announced on her Twitter handle that she was going to visit Uganda, I looked forward to the visit with hope.

I was clinging onto hope that while in Uganda, she would be able to address some of the biggest challenges in Ugandan football today, particularly corruption and underfunding.

Funding is a challenge not because of the lack of funds, but because of Fufa’s poor prioritisation. For instance, instead of empowering clubs, it instead drains out every penny from them to fund questionable investments such as an FM station whose coverage stops in Kampala. It is even more worrying to learn that the federation plans to set up its own television station as well as a hotel at the expense of developing the game at the grassroots level.

All this makes little sense because Fufa’s core mandate is football development. How I wished Samoura was taken to Bombo grounds, for example, to watch some football and understand the sorry state of our game on and off the pitch!

Match-fixing is at an all-time high with results engineered at the very top yet a recent report into the vice continues to rot away in the shelves at Fufa house.

And, in the wake of last year’s fraud conviction of Moses Magogo, the Fufa head, I expected her to give a stern warning on corruption that has engulfed the game of late.

Samoura knows all too well how corruption brought down Sepp Blatter’s Fifa regime and having personally wrote to Magogo suspending him over the same, she should at least have had a word on the matter.

Instead, Ugandans were treated to a carefully choreographed visit punctuated by pomp and partying as though everything going on in Ugandan football is okay.

What’s even shocking is that Samoura was hoodwinked to commission an extension of Fufa headquarters in Mengo, whose valuation of $800,000 [Shs3bn] is not commensurate with what is on the ground. No Journalist was bold enough to point out that Fufa simply refurbished an old house and only constructed a small entrance gate security building to account for the whopping Shs3bn!

To imagine that the Denis Obua-led Fufa spent $250,000 to buy land and construct Fufa house makes this whole venture questionable.

And guess what? Fufa cannot accept any external auditor and will say it is not accountable to anyone apart from Fifa.

Such ventures, including the Kadiba Stadium Project that was launched by Fifa President Gianni Infantino, are merely vehicles to siphon funds by a few individuals at the expense of the football fraternity.

Unfortunately, Samoura didn’t get a chance to meet the people who matter most; the players and club owners or at least hold a press conference to hear from the media.

Indeed, Fufa officials — some of whom knew the points I raised — would be asked if she met journalists, the more reason she was reduced to meeting select individuals.

That’s why her two-day visit will best be remembered for the symbolism exhibited.

And in many ways, Samoura’s visit only served to endorse a convicted fraudster that it is not a big deal to steal.

 

The author is Nyamityobora FC President!

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