Clubs go on strike

Do­mes­tic league on hold due to fed­er­a­tion cash dis­pute

World Soccer - - Contents -

Are­bel­lion by clubs in GuineaBis­sau is threat­en­ing to pre­vent the new sea­son kick­ing off in Novem­ber, with a swathe of sides, led by last term’s dou­ble win­ners Sport Bis­sau e Ben­fica (SBB), re­fus­ing to take part in the do­mes­tic league over what they per­ceive to be a mis­use of funds by the Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion of Guinea-Bis­sau (FFGB).

“All the fed­er­a­tion do is eat the money,” fumes SBB di­rec­tor gen­eral Ser­ifo Sow. “We have 40 clubs that are not in agree­ment with the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the fed­er­a­tion. FIFA are send­ing a lot of money to the fed­er­a­tion. They send them money for fut­sal, but the fed­er­a­tion never or­gan­ised this, and com­pe­ti­tions in schools, but this modal­ity has not been or­gan­ised in Guinea-Bis­sau ei­ther.”

Fed­er­a­tion ac­counts show that $178,182 was spent on gen­eral plan­ning, $145,405 on gen­er­a­tors, $47,851 on travel and ex­penses, and $26,333 on bus trans­porta­tion. “A big gen­er­a­tor in GuineaBis­sau can cost $20,000 but we don’t see th­ese gen­er­a­tors,” claims Sow.

The clubs’ ire is aimed at fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Manuel Nasci­mento Lopes, who has two years left on his term of of­fice and has come in for crit­i­cism be­fore.

In 2017, for­mer FFGB vice-pres­i­dent Inum Em­balo ques­tioned Lopes about the fed­er­a­tion’s spend­ing, but Lopes dis­missed it all as “spec­u­la­tion and lies”, adding: “It’s po­lit­i­cal pro­pa­ganda against me be­cause I do not agree to join some po­lit­i­cal move­ment.”

In Fe­bru­ary the fed­er­a­tion did cover the air fare for a party of 24 peo­ple to en­able SBB to travel abroad and take part in the CAF Cham­pi­ons League.

The last club from Guinea-Bis­sau to play in the tour­na­ment was Os Balan­tas, in 2010, and they were knocked out 3-0 on ag­gre­gate by Morocco’s Di­faa El Ja­dida. Oddly, SBB also faced Di­faa El Ja­dida in this year’s pre­lim­i­nary round and they were crushed 10-0 in Morocco, where Sow says they had to pay for their own ac­com­mo­da­tion.

The clubs are also chal­leng­ing what they feel is the pal­try level of prize money in the lo­cal league, where the win­ners get just $8,700.

Sow says: “We try to con­tact FIFA but they say they will only talk to the fed­er­a­tion, not the clubs. Al­ways FIFA send money but we don’t see where it is spent. So we sus­pect some peo­ple know what is go­ing on with the fed­er­a­tion.”

Last year Guinea-Bis­sau reached their first ma­jor fi­nals, qual­i­fy­ing for the African Na­tions Cup, but that suc­cess came about by us­ing play­ers who are with clubs over­seas, with many of the squad re­cruited from for­mer colo­nial power Por­tu­gal, which gave Guinea-Bis­sau in­de­pen­dence in 1974.

Play­ing abroad is the dream for do­mes­tic play­ers, who typ­i­cally play for no money at home.

Causo Seidi, pres­i­dent of sec­ond-tier side SD Mans­aba, says: “The clubs prom­ise when they sign an agree­ment or con­tract [to pay play­ers], but the re­al­ity is no club has the con­di­tions to do it. Some clubs ac­com­mo­date play­ers and give them food and bonus; some clubs do not. The play­ers want to play be­cause that way they can get an op­por­tu­nity to move on.”

Un­less the im­passe can be solved, Guinea-Bis­sau’s lo­cal play­ers do not look like play­ing at all.

“All the fed­er­a­tion do is eat the money” SBB di­rec­tor gen­eral Ser­ifo Sow

High point...tak­ing on Burk­ina Faso (in white) in the African Na­tions Cup STEVE MENARY

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