Clubs go on strike
Domestic league on hold due to federation cash dispute
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