NFA’s NC continues to divide public opinion

THE Namibia Football Association (NFA)’s Normalisation Committee (NC) continues to divide opinion among football enthusiasts, coaches, players, officials and administrators.

FIFA extended the mandate of the five-member NC, which it appointed to run the NFA in February 2019 after failure by a divided NFA to hold elections, as planned on 5 December 2018. The mandate of the NC has now been twice extended by FIFA, first on 15 March 2019 until 15 October, and now again until 15 March 2020.

In the letter extending the mandate of the NC, FIFA only makes a passing remark on the current standoff between the NC and the Namibia Premier League (NPL) by referring to a “… conflictual relationship between NFA and the Namibia Premier league.”

It is good to note that FIFA, however, states that on the 1st of October 2019 a roadmap was agreed upon with the NFA Normalisation Committee, which foresees the full implementation of the Normalisation Committee’s mandate…”

The “conflictual relationship” seemingly refers to the promotion/relegation saga relating to the 2018/19 NPL season. The NPL had relegated Windhoek-based local football giants Orlando Pirates and crosstown rivals Civics, as they ended last on the log standings of the previous league season. The other relegated team is Young African, who were demoted to the lower league after being found guilty of using an unduly registered player during the 2017/2018 league season.

Social media is abuzz with comments from football lovers in the country, with support divided between the NPL and the NFA NC.

Let me hasten to add that the NPL seems to be fairly divided as some teams’ management cadres are apparently pushing for full adherence to the directives from the NFA NC, while others are either silent or firmly opposing such. The NFA NC, on the other hand, shows no cracks and seems to be working with one purpose and intent.

The NPL teams who are throwing their weight behind the NFA NC, I believe, are doing so, conscious of the fact that propagating for the inclusion of Pirates and Civics, and even Young African, in the NPL for the new league season increases their chances of being relegated at the end of the season.

The alternative, which could be to play the league with 13 teams with no relegation at the end of the season, with only the addition of the top 3 teams in the lower league, should it be operational, is definitely a better prospect for the teams in favour of following the NC directive.

It must be out of a sense of righteousness and the pure love of the game that prompted them to go for the first option. At this late hour, many ordinary football lovers, like yours truly, might not even care who is right and who is wrong. Or even who is more right or more wrong.

We just want football to be played.

I suggest that both parties make concessions in the interests of the game before they get around the table.

The NC must lift the suspension of the NPL, and the NPL in turn can agree to retain the relegated teams, provided there is a guarantee that the first and second divisions will commence a week before the NPL resumes on a mutually agreed date.

The committee’s mandate is to organise executive committee elections before 31 May and run the NFA’s daily affairs.  That way both parties will save face, and soccer will be the winner and there will be no losers. It will also absolve the NPL from having to deal with the headache of how to restore the NPL back to the original 16-team format.

At the end of the day, we should have the interest of those players, who despite rain, wind, sun or chilly weather, brave the elements of nature to entertain us, the football lovers… and give prestige to the owners of football clubs in society.

As Collen Gusha, an ardent football lover from the //Kharas region put it: “Many of these players put food on the table with the salaries they earn from football. Think of the lives that are affected. You feed your families, what about them? They are the people who brought you to the board rooms. Without them, what purpose do you serve in your leadership capacity? Just put yourself in their shoes just for once.”