ARUA, SPORT. “You know that man has invested a lot of money in the club and I am told even coaches can’t resist him because he wants to recover his money, so once he has ‘sold’ a game, you as a coach can’t do anything even if the result is against the team,” I overheard these passionate but disgruntled fans discussing.

How could I believe them for I thought I had an upper hand in getting such sensitive information before these ‘ordinary’ fans of a club?

It wasn’t in my slightest imaginations that two days later, what I thought was mere speculation of ordinary club fans would turn into an official club statement.

“Onduparaka FC is concerned about the growing invasion of the Uganda Premier League (UPL) by persons whose sole agenda is to manipulate league games with promises of huge sums of money to those willing to adhere to their demands,” a club opening statement widely circulated on social media stated.

What was more intriguing in the statement was the claim that the management and players ‘have severally been approached by these individuals to manipulate the results of our games in exchange for money.’

The club statement said their silence in the hope that the practice will stop has only led to the fear of the future because the invasion by the individuals has only persisted.

How widespread is this practice? Who else has been approached? How many individuals are into this? Is it only club players and management as is the case of Onduparaka FC who are being approached or other parties like referees are involved? If these allegations are true, what is the future of the game in the country?

I couldn’t help asking these endless questions as I considered the plight of the innocent but helpless fans, players, administrators, referees, etc. whose sacrifices have seen football reach the heights it has attained in the country and how these gains could be reversed in the blink of an eye by the selfish perpetrators for individual gain.

Less than two years ago, one would have imagined a long period of calm and sanity in football after the rot exposed by the Dan Kidega commission instituted by the Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA).

This was after widespread complaints of general corruption in the game in which club officials and referees were accused of blatant manipulation of games.

Mr. Salmin Saleh, Mr. Shaban Ndawula Mawanda, Mr. Alli Kaddu, Mr. Ashraf Miiro, and Mr. Richard Kimbowa would all be exposed and given penalties according to the severity of their actions.

Barely two years from what seemed a deterrent action that would put corruption to rest at least for a good while, Onduparaka has rung the alarm bells again pointing to the same vice.

FUFA RESPONDS

Some social media critics have pointed out that the Onduparaka statement didn’t call for any action from the football governing body FUFA and was merely an open letter.

However, it is only healthy to examine the matter at hand and consequences of such sensitive speculations flooding the public space without any official response from the FUFA.

“We saw the message and it is a good decision taken by Onduparaka FC, our football bodies will follow up in this serious matter as we need to protect the game,” Mr. Ahmed Hussein said in response.

Mr. Hussein said in the face of the match-fixing threats, every lover of football and those directly involved in football affairs need to be keen on the 3Rs used to fight match-fixing. The 3-Rs are Recognise, Report and Reject.

It’s yet not clear how far Onduparaka FC would go to help the authorities in the eventual case of an official investigation into this latest threat to football.

But regardless of the circumstances and facts available, an allegation as serious as match-fixing deserves the uttermost attention of all the lovers of the beautiful game.

Centre ref 17 01 20A centre referee speaks to Wahab Gadafi of Onduparaka during a recent game with Maroons. PHOTO BY CLEMENT ALUMA.

To be continued……