Having been unceremoniously elbowed out of the Katutura top-four pecking order in the MTC Premiership by new boys Tura Magic in successive seasons, trouble seems to be tailing Katutura giants, FNB Orlando Pirates.
And while the fallen giants are still licking their wounds – pondering their future in an effort to arrest the alarming slump in form, disgruntled players are up in arms and are furiously accusing club management of failing to honour their contractual obligations towards the welfare of their playing personnel, adding salt to the wound.
Several senior players, who spoke to New Era Sport on condition that their identities remain anonymous, claimed they have not been paid their April salaries and have now resolved to seek an audience with the Namibia Football Players Union (NAFPU).
“It has been almost two months now since we have received our monthly salaries and the condition is worsening by the day, because we are being sent from pillar to post whenever we seek an explanation over the delay to release our salaries,” charged an angry senior player.
Another senior player says a tendency towards lax or rather reckless administration within the club’s hierarchy has deeply demoralised the players – resulting in the majority of playing personnel not pulling their weight on the field of play, as can be confirmed by the team’s indifferent form in recent times.
“Eish, my senior, we’re in a fix. It’s very bad, some of us don’t even know where our next meal is going to come from, while impatient landlords are circling like vultures over our heads, demanding their rent fees. We also have families to look after and monthly accounts to settle,” grumbled another player.
Just after the resumption, going into the decisive second round before the curtain closed on the 2015/2016 MTC Premiership campaign, Pirates looked to be serious title contenders – only for the perennial underachievers to mysteriously start blowing hot and cold after the shock departure of newly appointed club chairman Ali ‘Mr Fixed It’ Akan.
In a related development, MTC Premiership mid-table outfit Citizens, reportedly also find themselves in the dock for non-payment of their playing personnel.
Although the unpaid Pirates players brought their plight to the attention of NAFPU, they have in the meantime also sought a audience with the Labour Commission for intervention.
“Sadly, the Pirates players are not bona fide members of NAFPU but as a union, we cannot sit arms folded and allow this miscarriage of justice that has become so prevalent in Namibian football to continue,” responded the sharp-tongued NAFPU general secretary, Olsen Kahiriri.
“This is not an isolated case, we are dealing with two other cases of players over unpaid salaries and bonuses. Unhappy players from Citizens and the Brave Gladiators have reported cases of unfair labour practice to us as well.
“I’m telling you, the general public can rest assured, NAFPU will leave no stone unturned until this matter is resolved to the satisfaction of the affected parties. Football clubs have developed a habit of using footballers like Play Stations, only to switch off the power when they don’t need them,” concluded the football firebrand.
Interestingly, it has since emerged that both Orlando Pirates and Black Africa are exempted from receiving the MTC monthly grant as a result of their attachment to their principal sponsor, FNB Namibia.
Approached to shed light on these damning revelations, Pirates’ chief operations officer Mabos Vries conveniently shifted the goalposts, requesting the author to rather contact Akan, who had abandoned the Buccaneers’ sinking ship at the beginning of February.
Akan laughed off the suggestions, saying he is no longer in charge of administrative or financial duties of the club. “I’m not part of the setup anymore and even though I was a designated signatory to the club’s bank account, which only requires two signatures, the remaining two signatories are still there, so what’s the fuss”.