NFA, NPL debacle dismays Tjongarero

By Michael Uugwanga

THE Minister of Sport, Youth and National Service Agnes Tjongarero has made no secret about her disappointment regarding the non-stop fight between the Namibia Football Association (NFA) and the expelled Namibia Premier League (NPL).

The NFA which is the mother body of football in the country expelled the NPL on July 18 for allegedly bringing football into disrepute, a move that was not accepted by the NPL.

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Tjongarero is also unhappy with the expulsion of the country’s top flight football league.

The NFA/NPL fight erupted after the 2018/2019 soccer season over the NPL’s refusal to follow the NFA’s directive not to relegate Civics and Orlando Pirates from the league -despite the two clubs finishing in 14th and 15th places respectively at the end of that season- as stipulated in both the NFA and NPL constitutions to relegate the bottom three teams at the end of the season.

The other issue is that of Young African football club that was expelled from the league after they were found guilty of using a foreign player with false identification during the 2017/2018 season and as a result the club was expelled in the middle of the 2018/2019 season, for a crime committed the previous season.

After the NPL refused to follow the orders of the NFA it was then suspended in October last year before its expulsion but along the way the NPL approached the High Court in November however the case was dismissed, which prompted the NPL to approach the Supreme Court in February this year and once again the NPL lost when the court ruled in favour of the NFA.

Currently the two bodies have an outstanding case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland over the NPL suspension of last year.
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Although Tjongarero refuses to take sides, she revealed how confident she was when she had separate meetings with the two parties in April this year.

“We started engaging with the people from the NFA and that meeting was so promising, then after that we also had a meeting with the NPL just a week after we had the meeting with the NFA. At the meeting with the NFA we pointed out four to five points and one of them was the withdrawal of the suspension towards the NPL and the NPL to withdraw the CAS case. We also proposed for the league to start after the lockdown in September so that we move on. NPL agreed to do so but the NFA said that it has no mandate to talk about that. I am very disappointed seriously. As a ministry we do not want to be harsh. Our aim as a ministry is to promote sport,” a frustrated Tjongarero told Confidente Sport.

When asked about her ministry’s next step in solving the non-ending sour relations between the NFA and NPL (of which some of the problem solving is interference which could result in a football ban by FIFA), Tjongarero said interference from Government will be the last solution if no smooth solution is found.

According to the minister, the easiest solution to the ongoing saga is for the NFA to start with the lower divisions since the first division and second division are being administered by the association unlike the NPL which is an independent body.

Tjongarero also expressed concern at the way the dismissal of the NPL was handled saying that she only learned of the expulsion via the media.

The Sports Ministry has come under lots of criticism for its failure to mediate the fight between the two bodies, therefore Tjongarero has appealed for the media to advise her ministry on how best it can solve the matter.

“Maybe my colleagues were informed but as far I am concerned I was never told about the expulsion as I only heard about it in the media. I do not know what steps were taken to expel the NPL. (Media) Give us ideas because football is loved by most Namibians.

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Ideas from the media can help us (as long as we can) rescue football,” said Tjongarero.