Sports minister Nkandu must be above board

“…definitely what will happen is that those aggrieved and those that are in the steering seat need to be sitting down and resolve issues. There are no issues that cannot be solved in this world. The only remedy is you need people to seat down on the round table and discuss. If you avoid them, it will be at the expense of our soccer. We choose people to play around with but you can’t choose to work with. Whether you like it or not, are you telling me he (Kalusha) has nothing to offer to Zambian soccer, the answer is No. He has immense experience that he can share with the current leadership in FAZ. Even if they differ on some of the issues, I’m sure there is something that you can get from the previous administration or from those who have been [in] football for a very long time. For me I think my policy is very clear that we need to bring all these people that have interest in football and see how we can resolve these issues. We will not run away from the issues because someone does not want that person who has experience in football. Let’s bring together and chat the way forward.”

These are the words of newly appointed sports minister Elvis Kandu after he was sworn-in by President Hakainde Hichilema. It is clear that the new minister has not acquainted himself well with the changes in the rules that govern football from the ones he knew when he was Zanama B Rovers chairman.

To be fair to the minister, there are no grievances and wrangles in football anymore because the FIFA rules sorted that out. What is there from our understanding is a group of people who have failed to agree with the modern rules of the game and they want those rules to be bent in order to suit personal agendas which, unfortunately, can’t be done by anybody in Zambia no matter how big they are or by FAZ itself. There are statutes in football constitutions that are in conformity with FIFA statues and these came into being following corruption scandals that rocked the football world which led to the conviction of several football heads across the globe, including the most powerful men in the game Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini, Jack Warner, and our own Kalusha Bwalya.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport based in Zurich also upheld the convictions of some of these men by the FIFA Ethics chamber. And these matters were settled elsewhere, except in Zambia where the PF government of Edgar Lungu tried all manner of tricks and dictatorship to impose their will at Football House. But they failed because FIFA put their foot down and stuck to the written laws.

In fact, one of the biggest reasons the senior Zambia national soccer team has been failing after the 2017 U-20 AfCON victory is the weird behaviour of the previous government.

We are coming from a situation where government openly sponsored confusions in FAZ, and ministers were not ashamed to front themselves in fighting FAZ; untenably reducing the national team to an Andrew Kamanga national team. Not so long ago, the Chipolopolo went to CHAN without a single coin from government, the women national soccer team qualified to the Olympics for the first time in history. But there was no government on show. Kamanga had to host a luncheon in their honour at his house because the State seemed to have nothing to do with that success – not even a message of congratulations from the State. The only time former FAZ patron Edgar Lungu talked about ‘being proud’

of the Barbra Banda captained side was during the Olympic games; only because the main opposition leader thenHakainde Hichilema had done so and it was a campaign period.

It is also incorrect to say that great Kalu has been side-lined since he lost elections to Kamanga in 2016, unless my facts are incorrect. But I remember that he was offered the role of brand ambassador for the FAZ-owned KoPa kit which he declined. But the point is, the minister must not take us backwards, we have to move forward. We voted for change to move forward and not taking us backwards to the same old story that only has one end, confusion.

If the minister or government wants to reward great Kalu for his contribution to the game, there are so many beneficial jobs or opportunities in the government system that he can take up than using his name to perpetuate confusion in the game, because global football rules will never change to suit Zambia, NO! And I am sure even Kalusha himself has moved on because he knows how FIFA works, let’s not keep reminding him of the past.

By the way, if we are to reward sports men and women, lets also remember the most decorated Zambian sportsman, Samuel Matete. He is such a great icon too. The bottom line is, the minister must be above board and not carry on with mistakes of his predecessors.

Let’s wait and see!

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