The issue: Refereeing decisions
Our view: ...An incident involving referees is severe and should be treated with the importance it deserves. Fufa have got to try and get to the bottom of the current claims.
In 2003, Ugandan football sunk to an all-time low. A league title race between SC Villa and Express descended a contest of who can buy the most referees as decisive moments of the season came down to goal difference.
In one incident, an assistant referee was accused of celebrating an Express goal in a game against Masaka LC instead of flagging for a clear offside.
Then, Villa put 22 goals past Akol FC. That game at Nakivubo was the very bottom of the abyss. For some, the game has never recovered from that.
Besides the title race, one myth has it that that group of referees - the Arrow Group - was instituted and funded by those who were fighting to unseat then Fufa president Denis Obua (RIP).
Obua’s regime was already tainted but destroying the league was one way of bringing a quick end to his time in Mengo. Indeed ‘Mr Football’, a great player, coach and administrator fell.
In the aftermath of those incidents, there was a commission of inquiry whose findings didn’t change Ugandan football significantly even if a player lost his life amid that mess.
Fast forward to today. Ugandan football is experiencing a revival in whatever way you look at it. This revival is being threatened by claims that referees are fixing and betting on games which effectively erodes the most important foundation of sport - integrity.
The thrill of sport is in not knowing who will win at kickoff. Once that is taken away, then it’s much more thrilling to watch paint dry.
After those claims were made on NTV by Ali Waiswa last Monday, the vice chairman of the Fufa referees standing committee, the federation was compelled to take some kind of action.
On Friday, they announced the institution of a commission of inquiry into the match fixing and betting claims. Yes, the commission would help if it made any findings and recommendations with the culprits being punished.
That’s a bridge too far and there aren’t any precedents to suggest Fufa will get to the bottom of this. This could be a carefully crafted Public Relations exercise intended to calm the storm but for how long?
Last year, Fufa promised to issue a report on the behaviour of Uganda Cranes footballers in Gabon at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. Some players had been accused of indiscipline and Fufa came out to say they would investigate and publish a report. That report, if ever done, has never been made public.
Disciplined or not, behaviour in camp may not attack core of the game after all football is not a school and the world has some greats with profound excesses.
An incident involving referees is severe and should be treated with the importance it deserves.