Football associations and clubs across Africa are breathing a collective sigh of relief after Confederation of African Football (Caf) decided to take over all payments of match officials.
Local FAs and clubs have previously carried the burden of paying referees allowances, flights and accommodation for Caf international matches as well as club continental engagements.
FAs like Fufa, and clubs like KCCA and Vipers can now save that money for other pressing needs.
“Effective 2018, indemnities of referees designated for Caf matches will be paid directly by Caf,” reads a statement from Caf following an executive meeting chaired by the body president Ahmad Ahmad in Casablanca, Morocco on Wednesday.
“This historic decision is a materialization of a campaign promise by the Caf president,” the write-up goes on. The decision not only reduces the financial burden on national associations and clubs; it hugely mitigates ethical challenges that came with these bodies paying referees to officiate matches they are involved in.
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“It is huge,” admitted Fufa president Moses Magogo.
“Normally it costs Fufa or a club in Caf competitions about $4,000 (Shs14m) per match on allowances only. “Yet there is another cost of air tickets and accommodation and local transport, then visas, then inland transport.”
A relieved KCCA CEO Josephine Namukisa, who received the news with a huge “Hallelujah”, actually says they spent about $16,000 (Shs58m) per home game on referees.
“This included air tickets, allowances, visa fees, accomodation and meals among others (like inland transport),” she said.
The Ugandan champions hosted six continental matches, bringing the total in indemnities for match officials to about $96,000 (Shs350m).
Elsewhere, this added spending by Caf will cost the continental body about $3m (Shs11b) for 650 matches in a football calendar.
This comes at a time rates for each match official had been increased from $750 (Shs2.7m) to about $1,250 (Shs4.5m).