Bots football turmoil: COSAFA suspends coach, players
By Mpho Tebele
GABORONE – THE cash-strapped Botswana Football Association (BFA) says it will comply with COSAFA’s demands that it pays fines following the suspension of senior national team coach Peter Butler and two of his senior players.
Butler, Boitumelo Mafoko and Captain Joel Mogorosi were handed fines and banned for two years after they were accused of using abusive language against a referee following Botswana’s 3-2 defeat to South Africa at the COSAFA Castle Cup final in Namibia recently.
Botswana head of delegation, Sakaeyo Jane, is also implicated in the matter that saw BFA fined US$3,500, as he allegedly used abusive language towards referee Janny Sikazwe.
The association recently revealed that it is broke as it is running on a deficit of about P10 million.
The team is even unable to play friendly games due to financial constraints, its Chief Executive Officer Kitso Kemoeng said in an interview.
He explained that a friendly game requires appearance fees, something that they are unable to afford currently.
BFA has been given up to October 15, 2016, to pay the COSAFA fines.
Asked if they would be able to pay the COSAFA fines, Kemoeng said: “Definitely it’s something that we’ll have to pay. We’ll have to look for money and pay the fines in order for us to maintain the credibility of BFA membership to COSAFA. We have to comply with the punishment.”
According to Kemoeng, BFA will also hold internal consultations on the way forward regarding payment to COSAFA. He said the coach and the players were aware of their suspensions, adding that the BFA was also investigating what could have led to that.
In a post-match interview, Butler was quoted as saying: “I’d just like to say that this tournament will never ever gain any leverage or credibility when we have atrocious and disgusting and shameful refereeing decisions – not just tonight but throughout that tournament.
“This is the same guy (referee) that sent me off, the same guy that gave a penalty against us the last time and he’s given two penalties tonight. We were the better team for the majority of the game.”
Football analyst Duncan Kgangkenna described the suspensions as unfortunate, saying the players and their coach were victims of what he called poor officiating.
“The level of refereeing was wanting as far as this year’s tournament is concerned if you look at the inconsistencies in the application of the rules of the game and the circumstances that led to this,” said Kgangkenna.
He added that “unlike in other regions and elsewhere where referees are chosen on merit, some of the referees who participated at the COSAFA tournament exhibited poor officiating from the onset and they should have been disqualified as the tournament wore on.”
Kgangkenna said COSAFA should also ensure that the level of officiating is at par with the required international standards.
His advice to Butler and his players was that they should from now on exercise and adopt actions, attitudes and behaviours consistent with a professional environment.
Meanwhile, KickOff reported that the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) was also banned from competing in COSAFA Youth tournaments for the next two years, from August 2016, though the sanction was suspended for a period of two years.
It stems from the fact that Zambia fielded two over-age players at the recent COSAFA Under-17 Championships in Mauritius.
The players concerned, Benjamin Phiri and Nicholas Mulilo, have been banned from competing in all COSAFA competitions for a period of two years.
The bans have also been extended to coach Osward Mutapa and team manager Collins Phiri.
FAZ was also fined US$5,000, payable by October 15, 2016. Should FAZ not pay the fine, it will remain suspended from all COSAFA competitions until the amount is paid.