Chairperson of the Fifa Normalisation Committee Bisey Uirab yesterday said if the financially crippled Namibia Football Association (NFA) is to be rescued from the jaws of demise, serious structural and financial adjustments would have to be made.
The NFA, which is currently under the stewardship of the Fifa-appointed Normalisation Committee, is on the verge of financial ruin, as the local football federation is sitting with over N$23 million in debts and battling with a misaligned governance structure.
Uirab made these observations at yesterday’s press briefing at the NFA Football House in Katutura, where he and fellow committee members engaged the media for the first time since their appointment by Fifa in April.
In what can be described as an open and frank presser, Uirab said in order for the association to find itself out of the N$23 million debts, painful decisions would have to be made, and a starting point would be realigned to the organisation’s governance and administrative structure, which he said leapfrogs the NFA’s current financial capabilities.
“The NFA is in the red with over N$23 million in debts, which was accumulated mostly over the past year and a half. In line with our mandate, we have started to address the governance, administration and financial challenges faced by the association,” said Uirab.
“It is imperative to remain within the framework of established procedures, statutes and rules governing our football as we move forward because governance is an important foundation on which we wish to leave the yet-to-be-elected NFA executive committee. Proper governance can only inspire the confidence of the brand of football, and win back the hearts and minds of all interested stakeholders of the beautiful game.”
“The organisational structure of the NFA needs to be aligned with the activities of the FA as well as the available funding. The NFA’s current salary structure needs to be aligned as well, and there is a need to formalise national team and national technical team contracts, which include remuneration. Several policies and procedures also need to be formulated and implemented, and some statutes equally need to be reviewed and revised.”
“The NFA has serious financial constraints and is currently sitting with a long list of creditors that need to be paid. We will engage with all these creditors to ensure stakeholder relationships are managed, and the resolution of payment is done amicably,” added Uirab.
More funding needed to rescue NFA
He also said for the NFA to achieve financial stability, external or private funding would be required to help sustain some of the association’s programmes, leagues, national teams and various development initiatives, as Fifa grants alone will never be enough.
“We are in the process of engaging various stakeholders, including government, through our line ministry, Fifa, Caf and local sponsors to address these financial challenges. We must, however, be mindful that to attract the confidence of these stakeholders, especially corporate Namibia, we must work tirelessly to restore the bad image the game has suffered over the past years, and this will not change overnight. This brand-healing process starts with identifying our challenges, and some notable
issues identified are the lack of proper governance, poor financial administration and human development challenges. We remain committed to addressing these challenges.”
NPFL vs NPL saga
With the committee planning to kick off the new football season around August this year, questions were asked about the practicality of such a decision, as Namibia is still sitting with two heavily divided premier leagues and for peace to prevail; it is an issue that needs to be first addressed.
To that, Uirab said, “as things currently stand, the Namibia Premier Football League (NPFL) is considered the official league under the NFA, but “consultations and engagements with various stakeholders are still ongoing, and let’s hope for a good outcome so that our football can start”.
He, however, did not specify if some of those stakeholders being engaged include the leadership of the Namibia Premier League (NPL), simply maintaining that wide-ranging consultations are ongoing with all interested parties.
The NPFL, started a few years ago, came to life after the NPL was expelled by the NFA for refusing to implement a directive by the association to reinstate relegated clubs.
The NPL has since gone on to be registered by government, through the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC), as a body responsible for professional football, and the NPFL remains under the NFA.
Afcon, Cosafa competitions on the radar
The committee also announced Namibia has confirmed her participation in the coming 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers as well as Cosafa competitions, lined up for this year, but said the funding would first need to be secured to ensure the national teams’ smooth participation.
It was also confirmed that Brave Warriors interim coach, Bobby Samaria, will remain in charge of the team during the country’s first two scheduled Afcon qualifiers, starting with Burundi next month in Johannesburg, South Africa.