Appearance fees... a damp squib

Neo Masanako - BG Correspondent
Tuesday, 21 May 2019
LOW ON FUNDS…Zebras players are waiting for their dues LOW ON FUNDS…Zebras players are waiting for their dues

Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) is allegedly struggling to pay athletes their appearance fees and there is overwhelming fear that the payments meant to reward athletes might be halted in the near future.

The BNSC sometime last year announced that it had taken a decision to put an end to the national team monthly allowance that was given to Volleyball and Football players. It was alleged at the time that the money took a long time to reach athletes and other codes had started complaining of neglect. Currently and following a great showing in Seychelles this past weekend by the Zebras team, the mood in the camp is relatively low. BG Sport understands that the ugly monster of unpaid appearance fees is still haunting Botswana Football Association (BFA).

Some players managed to show a brave face, claiming all is well and that they are determined to bring positive results home however, the heat is becoming unbearable and might reach boiling point. The Zebras players are owed appearance fees dating back to the AFCON qualifier game against Mauritania played last year. To this end, the Zebras made three more national appearances suggesting that they are owed money amounting to P14 000 for each player. Meanwhile, the team is expected to compete at the upcoming 2019 COSAFA tournament to be staged in South Africa next week. However, one official at BFA mentioned that the BNSC is contemplating on paying players a once off appearance fee of P3 500 regardless of the number of games played by the Zebras at the tournament. The team was in the past paid P 3 500 for each national appearance they made.

In an interview  this  week, BFA spokesperson Tumo Mpatane confirmed that there has been delays in paying the athletes but pointed that the money is paid by government through Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC). BFA, he explains, was responsible for the daily allowance of P100 per  day spent in camp.  Mpatane was quick to defend that even though the team travelled without the allowances to Seychelles, the money was deposited into their accounts upon return this past Monday. 

Majority if not all when approached by this publication after the Seychelles game refused to comment or react to the matter of their pending appearance fees, many of them simply said they do not want to be in the bad books of sport authorities. This publication would later gather through a few that preferred to speak on condition of anonymity that players fear being vocal, as they believe they will be victimized in future and dropped from the national team.

“We are expected to bring results but sometimes we are demoralized by such because if the debt keeps going higher chances of us ever being paid are getting slim,” one player explained. Another added that in fact there are some players who were not in the current squad and now playing internationally who are still owed their dues from as far as 2017.  A BFA official close to the matter noted that there have been instances where the technical team together with the coach finds it difficult to call players to camp as they keep asking about their dues.

“It’s a problematic scenery and fault on our part because they are assured that their needs will be a priority but owed huge sums,” the BFA official explained. Some time last year, the disgruntled players resorted to striking and threatening to boycott camp and it would be unfortunate should the ugly scenes resurface.  Nevertheless BNSC’s Development Officer Bobby Gaseitsiwe dismissed claims that there are plans to stop the appearance fees but said the allegations are false and misleading. If anything, they intend to review the incentive for the better.

Gaseitsiwe added that they actually paid all appearance fees debt this past Wednesday and the payment should reach athletes latest by today (Friday). “It is not only football but all other codes,” he assured. He explained that the process of paying athletes was long hence the delay saying there are many stages that the list submitted to them has to go through. Gaseisitswe advised players to exercise patience because regardless of the long process, they will always do right by players and pay them. 

Meanwhile as a way of motivating players, the BFA president Maclean Letshwiti this week announced that he raised P100 000 to be shared amongst players and the technical team. Letshwiti said the team did well by humiliating Seychelles with a 5-1 score on aggregate and proceeding to the second round of 2020 CHAN qualifiers.

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