Sunday , September 20 2020
Home / COLUMNISTS / Andrew Mwenda / The corruption of Uganda football
Covid-19 Image

The corruption of Uganda football


The Uganda Cranes in Egypt recently. Their strike has got mixed reactions.

How the Cranes blundered in Cairo when they went on strike over pay and refused to train

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week, the Uganda Cranes players went on strike in Cairo Egypt, where they were competing in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). They accused officials of the Federation for Ugandan Football Association (FUFA) of plotting to cheat them of their bonuses for qualifying for the knockout stage of 16. Knowing the corruption that has eaten the entrails of our country’s moral fabric, I could not put FUFA above these accusations. I was therefore among those who tweeted highlighting the concerns of our players.

I had sources connected to the players. The players had been paid all their other allowances. However, they were entitled to a bonus for qualifying for the knockout stage. They feared that if they were knocked out by Senegal, a very strong team, FUFA would not pay their bonuses for qualifying to the group of 16. It was therefore prudent to leak this concern to people on social media in order to raise the alarm, shame FUFA and force it to pay them.

I felt both sympathy and solidarity with the Cranes players given my knowledge, not of FUFA specifically, but of Ugandan officials generally. However, I was later disappointed to learn that the players had gone on strike and refused to go for training unless and until their allowances are paid. I felt that the players had betrayed their professional aspirations, the team and the country. To appreciate my disappointment, and that of millions of Ugandan football fans, it is important to place this strike in its proper context.

AFCON is the most prestigious football tournament on our continent.  For the last ten years, our country has been obsessed with qualifying, having last reached the competition in 1978. Indeed, it would be appropriate to say that it became the most important national goal that united our country. It was therefore gratifying when, in 2017, Uganda qualified for this tournament after 38 year of waiting.

There was euphoria across the entire nation. Even the First Lady, who had also been appointed minister of Education and Sports, attended the games, cheered with other fans, tweeted the progress and was in the stadium when we qualified. However, the Cranes performed poorly and did not win a single game and were eliminated in the preliminaries. It was, therefore, even more gratifying when they qualified the second time in a row in 2018. All eyes of Uganda were thus on the team to make Uganda proud at the 2019 finals.

And the Cranes did not disappoint. They played well and qualified for the knockouts. The whole country was behind them. They made our country proud. Yet it was at the height of their achievement and nationwide popularity that Cranes players foundered. They went on strike over pay. The fear that FUFA officials may not pay their bonus is legitimate. But to go on strike and refuse to play because of this was a blunder. It demonstrated the players’ loss of focus from the main issue to subsidiary ones.


  1. Jaja Walu of Uganda Cranes

    Footballers careers peak between 20 and 30 years of age, when ideally they earn the most.

    Besides a good number of Uganda Cranes players are over 30 with little or minimal education, no other skills to put food on the table were any day on the field they could develop career-ending-injuries with no pension, no nssf, or even a family to offer a fallback to position to readjust to a life when football is nolonger possible and clearly they know it much better than any one else.

    Criticising the short-term strategy these players exhibited when the demanding bonus pay yet any cynical, intelligent and intelligent person would do the same is unfortunate, uninformed and unjustified and besides it’s said a bird in hand is better than two in the bush.

    It’s unfortunate that Mr. Mwenda that you see parallels between Uganda’s rampant political-prostitution and the Rational Economic decision of these underprivileged but talented footballers who have but one shot at achieving the Ugandan dream or forever be doomed to a tragic life.

    The political-prostitutes that are causing your Lamentations usually have more doors open to them and failing to earn from every opportunity politics doesn’t doom them for in politics one can earn from day one to forever case in point the dinosaurs in Uganda’s public affairs and H.E Museveni’s cabinet that have been making a living as politicians from Independence day in 1960’s to today.

    • Jaja Walusimbi is right! His words thou can be understood by the heart.
      While it is the work of the soldier to fight in defense of his country, it is also the work of the government to motivate him. Having said that I hope everyone understands that a hungry man would not be expected win any race. Actually, a hungry soldier would use his gun to robe the native under his care. Therefore we should all stop talking nonsense but be proud of our boys who have not stopped sacrificing for the team on our behalf despite the government’s ignorance. Players need to be heroes but not heroes of themselves but of the country. They’re not working for themselves, they’re working for the country that is bigger than all of us. What right have you to blame people for their goodwill?
      Besides, how many times have we seen the president giving out bags of money, actually our money for personal reasons and we all keep mute!? How many times have we witnessed corruption and embezzlement of funds which actually brings greater shame to the country and nothing’s done? How much has individuals suffered trying to put these actions to critsism?

      Anyone that loves his country will only suffer and die for it if the country is willing to do the same for him. African leaders are nearsighted instead.

      Mwenda’s reasoning is irrelevant in this case. How would you compare this with the Luweero incident? The group was motivated by the fact that they’d become owners of the entire country and that is a good reason to die for. This attitude will keep people in government until they can’t breath freely. Heroes on the other hand are leaders who lead and leave for a reason not self-satisfaction.

      Let’s be human even as we make judgment!

  2. I agree with Mwenda.its so simplistic to refuse to play,there are many tactics that could have been employed.Definately Magogo and team were much to blame for the corruption and lack of diligence but to refuse to train was like eating poison because a neighbour has annoyed you.Jajja Walu and group should know that football stakeholders are not only players and FUFA.If at all he finds the rest of us irrelevant then he is for a surprise as we shall stop supporting and watching cranes and see if the airtels and others will finance them even an inch.You need to start to see the bigger picture and be advised by knowledgeable people,not just excited goons.

    • Advisor-not-goon of Jaja-Walu of Uganda Cranes

      Eric L, Sir we are not goons you patronising stuck up elite.

      We are informed wanaichi that are looking out for our kind, the down-trodden, who have shared the ups and downs of these boys and don’t care who failed to honor the obligation to our boys only we know that the boys were almost going to get the short end of the stick and had to forceful make a point.

      As of you threats not attend Uganda’s Cranes matches, we Uganda’s majority the muntu-was-wansi shall gladly and ablely fill up the stadium and also given that most customers of Airtel are our people(wanaichi) Airtel will gladly continue this advantageous and rewarding partnership.

      Eric L and you fellow elites rarely if ever at all go to namboole and so your boycott will have the same impact as Rwanda’s closure of the Gatuna border… negligible.World all over football, footballers and football fans are the common man please stick to rugby, tennis, etc.

  3. The birds are coming home to roost now. That is what comes out of mistrust and faithlessness. What Museveni and his fellow politicians call tactical lies and other ways of lying to gain political capital is in fact erosive and corrosive.
    No young man or woman believes anything Museveni says no matter how truthful it is because they have been lied to so consistently for the past many years that they cannot believe anything he says no matter what.
    The cranes were right anything now is better than anything tomorrow. You don’t invest in a lace where eviction is 99% probable.

  4. We should leave issues of the generals to the generals.

  5. Lets not be ignorant, some players are not on the national team for the same reason, this shows Mr. Magogo’s actions. His word is in English, A promise is a date, but we know in Uganda “Akusuubiza Akir’akumma.”

  6. Brian Majwega and many other players are not on the national team for the same reason, this shows Mr. Magogo’s actions, lets not be ignorant. His words are in English, a promise is a date, but in Uganda, “Akusuubiza Akir’akumma”.

  7. Out of context! Am sorry! Like jaja wal says the careers if footballers end just after 30yrs of age, but remember to get there its a 5yr or 6 yr work esp in uganda where footbal is presently not a career choice but a passion because it doesn’t pay. I wonder why u would expect a player to b that patriotic yet citizens themselves have nothing like uganda on their hearts. They vote NRM mps who cleary show them they are persuing their own or the ‘don’ interests. They vote them again and again. Ugandans should b patriotic first to expect any out of them like footballers to show the same. Our footballers were exceptionally brilliant on this. I salute them.

  8. I have support for Andrew’ views so much. The players became short sighted and this will cost them. Much as I am not in top FUFA position, I believe in the transparency that Eng Moses Magogo has. The system at FUFA has improved so much. Imagine world cup and AFCON campaigns will continue being there, what would I think of such players next time? Not all these players started the strike at once but there is one two who started the idea. Such a player if I knew him and I had powers would not feature in national engagements again it was a shame to the whole country. Let me reserve my annoyance.

  9. Such article is irrelevant ,if u said so it means other players also think so,they qualify for knockout stay ,is a plus ,is not an easy task

  10. 1.Soccer has always been a game of hard work,skills and love for the game.Its always difficult to fix matches during soccer thats why naturally a team has to work hard during world cup to defeat countries like England,France,Italy,Brazil,Argentina,Germany and in the AFCON at some point nations should prepare to defeat Senegal,Egypt,Nigeria and Cameroon.
    2.When FBI investigated FIFA it was discovered that the FIFA officals make lots of money during the launch of bids for nations to host world cup but it was difficult to prove match fixing.
    3.For those who are poor;there is no big deal in being rich some of us who have seen some money will tell you that at some point you get fed up of traveling,eating exotic cuisines and having a fat bank account.I would say thats all vanity.
    4.I dont know why Ugandans are too obsessed with money;can you imagine a Doctor can refuse to treat a patient coz she/he lacks 100k?
    5. Recently i attended a burial in Wakiso where one of the ‘mourners after eating” began asking the person seated next to him ” Mpozi ya fudde abadde Mukazi obaa Musajja?

    • ejakait engoraton

      ” Mpozi ya fudde abadde Mukazi obaa Musajja?”

      WINNIE my dear, that is now a generic joke, you don’t even need a licence to tell it because the patent on it expired a long time ago.It is a so “yesterdays joke”.

      IF not then the funeral must have been in RWASHAMAIRE where I suspect you have more connections , rather than WAKISO , if for your desire to bash the natives.

  11. You are back with your ‘legal’ mischief Winnie. That the rich are at times fed up with money? as if poverty and destitution is a laughing matter?
    Remember in 2010, one fellow (who we chased from this forum) saw you in the cold at night on Speke road waiting for an unknown customer and you quarreled over it when he mentioned it here. If you have struck gold like one Good Black, must you dig the still-poor? Fools are born daily and you might have found a dumb pensioner from North who you are saying bare……soon we shall be reading scandals in newspapers about you.
    Just a question of time because you said even money and wealth bores you.

  12. @ Ejakaait My Bad,How is a Briton supposed to know that a joke has expired in a 3rd world nation?

    @ Rwasubutare careful with your little ball.At times poverty is a laughing matter i mean how can a farmer sell his maize at 200/- per Kilogram?

    Every woman is advised to keep the contacts of his ex boyfriend for a rainy day if Bujingo’s wife had followed that advise she wouldn’t be whining.

    • 1.You need ‘ekisakaate’ at best or a real man to discipline you
      2. Farmers are selling maizegrain at 200 UGX/kg yes…thanks to the visionary who swore he would seek market elsewhere. During those days, no maize wold lack market. traders swept every grain that was unconsumed and ferried to Rwanda where it was milled and flour sold in Congo. Congo is big and fertile but armed groups roam the countryside and don’t allow farmers to work.
      Semitrailers were flowing o Rwanda and Burundi like the Nile waters but the visionary in his wisdom calculated that if he could support Kiyimba and shoot Kagame out of Kigali, business would go better than is. That is how it came to cost the farmer his sweat.
      3. After 29 years in some guy’s homestead, no man wants that woman except her own father and mother. The world is such a cruel place. That family was bewitched by people. In time, we hope everyone will return to sobriety and Bujingo will happily have 2 wives…..what God has joined, no man should separate …… even the man himself. My pleasure is that Ms Naluswa is not mentioned anywhere as adulterous….as for that Bujingo daughter, she will see for herself what begets insulting a parent. Ms Makula NAntaba is an innocent third party (ITP) you know law.

  13. Two words: “Spot on”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *