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The corruption of Uganda football

Cranes coach Desabre drilling his players who were later derailed by money matters. PHOTO FUFA MEDIA

What exactly did the players think was their main aim in Cairo? Playing for one’s national team is not a regular job from which a player should expect income. It is a national duty where any monetary compensation is a reward, not a precondition for playing. To make monetary compensation the main condition for playing shows that our players have a mercenary mentality. Mercenaries are soldiers for hire. They lack an emotional commitment to the cause. In this case, our players were not in the game because of a passionate desire to win the trophy but to make money.

This reflects the culture that has come to dominate our national consciousness, most especially in politics. There is a belief that people support a cause or a candidate only if there is some personal monetary benefit. This attitude started with NRM but has grown and become even more perverse in the opposition and the wider society. For example, among opposition pundits, if anyone expresses a view contrary to theirs, and which favors President Yoweri Museveni, it means the president has paid for it. This does not reflect the character of the person they are criticising but their understanding and thus expectations of power.

This tragedy within the opposition was born within the NRM. The NRM’s climb-down from an ideologically anchored political movement to a cash and carry government has been one of the most dramatic and tragic developments in our history. Here is a movement that began with high ideals. People abandoned their families, studies, businesses and homes to join the struggle in Luwero. There was no salary for participation. There was little expectation of a quick victory. There was no housing, medical care or food. The movement was driven primarily by a commitment to its political objectives: ending corruption, promoting democracy, fighting sectarianism and developing the economy.

But once in power, NRM changed its basis of support from high ideals to crass materialism. Today, it is pale shadow of its former self. Its Members of Parliament can only vote for something because they have been paid. Its supporters are paid to attend rallies. At every meeting of every organ of the party, its officials want to be paid for attending. This behavior is no longer unique to NRM. Anyone reading commentaries and posts by our opposition activists can see – not the moral outrage over such attitudes – but the envy and jealous towards those who are in power and profiting from it.

This brings me back to the Cranes. Money is important and I defend their right to be paid as per their contracts. However, monetary compensation cannot be the main incentive for national players. Assume they were offered an option to be paid Shs100 million each but they get knocked out in the first round, or they get paid nothing but win the trophy, what would the players choose? Nationalist players would choose the trophy. By their strike, the Cranes made their choice clear: money over the trophy. Tragic.

Yet choosing the trophy over pay is not altruism. It is a self-interested decision that brings many benefits but largely in the long term. The first reward is prestige, and this is something that money finds difficult to buy. Imagine the adulation and respect they would get if they returned to the country with the trophy. The second is economic: many international clubs would begin scouting Uganda for players. Our players chose short-term gain over their long-term prospects. Sad!




  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”.

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