… And the Soccer-loving Masses Bear the Brunt

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Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

AS you are reading this column, the Brave Warriors’ participation in the African Nations Cup may either have notched up or they may be on their way home. Whatever the eventuality, there is no bitter reality than the fact that the tournament is for most of the football fans here and in some of our neighbouring countries like Zambia, sadly inaccessible on the box.

Most of the fans who love this game cannot share in its Afcon joy and excitement, or sorrow for that matter.

Irrespective of how their teams are doing or have been doing at the African premier soccer showcase, the event remains for most of them out of reach because of the inability by the national broadcasters to scrap together cents/pennies to meet the exorbitant fees that those with connections to the money-powered, have abrogated to them the exclusive rights of broadcasting the games.

To begin with, one cannot but lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of our national football associations first, and then on our national broadcasters.

Firstly, football rights on the continent, I assume, are vested in the Confederation of African Football (CAF). CAF is constituted of our various national associations.

Thus, it must have been a collective decision by our national associations through CAF, to surrender the broadcasting rights to a foreign-based entity, as is the case with the current edition of Afcon, which has been abdicated to a French-based organisation, Sports Five Network.

Whether our national broadcasters were given any option, this we do not know.

But at least they should have been, if only being recognised by CAF through their various football associations to enable them to inform our local networks timely to weigh their options.

Not only this but I would have thought ensuring that fans, through their national broadcasters, share in the joy of Afcon should not be a matter for the national broadcasters only.

Our associations being the custodians of football at national level and thus envoys at continental level have as much a duty to football fans.

Football fans are, needless to say, the lifeline of our football and by extension our football associations, directly and indirectly. Thus in negotiating away its broadcastings rights, Afcon, and our local associations should have paid due consideration to the interest of soccer fans.

The fact that we are not viewing the games tells it all.

One would have wanted to see close consultations between the associations and broadcasters to have a common position on how to respond to the proposal for the selling of the broadcasting rights.

However, if the Acting Secretary General of the Namibia Football Association (NFA), Barry Rukoro’s surprise at learning from media enquiries that the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) has not been successful in securing rights to broadcast the games on its airwaves is genuine, then it speaks volumes of the love-hate relationship between the two bodies.

Eventually, none other than football fans seem to bear the brunt of the poor relationship between the two.

Both NBC and One Africa Television seemed to have been oblivious to the common factor that should be binding them, the soccer-loving fans. One wonders whether they at any point ever contemplated collaboration or pooling resources.

Whatever the explanation the would-be untouchables in charge of our local stations may offer, the fact remains that we cannot view Afcon live this year and this is a situation that may last until after 2016 as Sports Five Network have acquired exclusive broadcasting rights for Afcon till 2016.

But what is this actually telling us? It is a pointer to the reality of the world order that has changed little since the advent of Uhuru on the African continent with the imperialist world still pulling the strings on Africa. In this process the mass of the exploited African people bear the brunt. I am sure the upper echelons of the NFA, One Africa Television, NBC and their close associates have little to bother about since somehow they would be watching Afcon live. They have the means.

The poor soccer-loving masses are in this instance left to their own lot and one wonders at whose mercy – not even delayed games.

That’s the ways of our class society where the interests of the masses matter only for imperative of oiling the pockets of the elites.

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