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Magogo scores own goal

Can the FUFA president get a third term after Uganda Cranes fallout over unpaid allowances, disrespect?

COMMENT | IAN KATUSIIME | The curse that haunts presidents seeking a third term in Uganda seems to have come for Moses Magogo, the president of Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA). Magogo, as the head of the football governing body in Uganda, wields a lot of power and his bid for a third term has come with blowback.

It all started with a press conference where Magogo lashed out at Cranes players for playing “sh***y” football. The comment did not go down well with many Uganda Cranes players and within hours Dennis Onyango, the celebrated captain of the Cranes team, announced his retirement. It was followed in quick succession by Hassan Wasswa and Mike Azira, equally celebrated players who turned out for the national football team.

The elections for FUFA president are due in August and football personalities plotting to unseat Magogo have already started their campaigns. One of Magogo’s rivals says FUFA needs to focus elsewhere apart from the Uganda Cranes.

At the press conference held at FUFA headquarters in Mengo, Magogo took a swipe at ex Cranes players who keep demanding pay from FUFA when they are no longer playing for the Cranes. “Football paid you when you were playing football. What is your problem after playing football?” Magogo asked and added “These guys have earned hundreds of millions of shillings and then someone comes out saying FUFA does not pay players.”

Magogo was irked by retired Cranes players constantly demanding money from FUFA saying the crop of footballers in today’s era have earned far more than what previous generations of footballers in the times of Majid Musisi earned. Magogo’s gripe with Cranes players was that the footballers are ungrateful to FUFA; insisting the availability of money in the current football environment should be something to be positive about.

The FUFA president also had no kind words for Cranes players who put in below par performances but are quick to demand for payment. However players are supposed to be paid whenever they play for the national team.

A discussion by journalists on NTV PressBox, a popular sports show, captured how Magogo blundered at a time he should have been seeking to mend fences as he guns for a third term. “Magogo has very good points which he raises. He just needs a speechwriter and promise to stick to the script.” Andrew Mwanguhya, a sports journalist who covers the Cranes said.

“Everything he (Magogo) is saying is what we can say on this panel in a different language including what every Cranes fan can say about the performances,” Ismail Dhakaba, anther journalist chipped in. “We have questioned the selection of McKinstry and Abdullah Mubiru Kiwanuka in the recent past but now the tone he is using,” he wondered.

McKinstry is the recently sacked coach of the Cranes. But a series of bloopers by Magogo have left the FUFA president and his team scrambling for goodwill. Just before the press conference, images of Mike Mutyaba, a Cranes player were making the rounds as guards at FUFA house beat him up as he waved placards demanding for pay from FUFA. Mutyaba spent a night in police cells and it took the intervention of Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Asan Kasingye, the Chief Political Commissar of Uganda Police to break him out.

As if to appear on top of the debate on player payments, FUFA posted payments of Cranes allowances from 2018 to date on its Facebook page. It instead elicited more anger from the players and a general rebuke from the public. Hassan Wasswa, who had just retired was furious saying FUFA still owed players their allowances for a match between Cranes and Congo.

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