Sports

Phafane blasts past govt

Seabata Mahao

Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) president, Advocate Salemane Phafane, accused the past government of meddling in LeFA’s internal politics.

The president took a swipe at the past administration last weekend during LeFA’s 17th Ordinary Congress.

Advocate Phafane charged that LeFA’s relationship with the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation reached its lowest point ever during the past administration due to their meddling.

He blamed the ministry’s lack of support for Lesotho’s deteriorating football development, charging that he could not remember the last time the ministry officials visited LeFA’s offices, or graced send-offs of national teams going to participate in international games.

“The ministry got itself entangled in the internal politics of LeFA and failed in their supportive role, you will remember that,” Phafane said.

“I spoke about it in the last congress. We found out that during our elections, there were people who received sponsorship from the ministry to go out and campaign for other people in the districts so as to win elections, an act which was terribly unacceptable,” he blasted.

He added, “We know that government motor vehicles were released to people who are not even employed by the government, to help in their campaigning. The only reason behind this was to ensure that certain people were removed from office while others were installed. That act by the past government administration was intrusive in the affairs of LeFA.”

He made note of a litany of things that “went wrong and unmanaged” under the past administration.

He continued to urged the incoming government to prioritise the rehabilitation of Setsoto Stadium indicating that as LEFA, they have spent millions hosting home games on South African soil following the FIFA ban of the stadium.

THE Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) condemned Setsoto Stadium for hosting FIFA fixtures alongside 23 other stadia in Africa.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced the ban of 23 stadiums across the continent “for not meeting the required standards to host CAF A Type competitions” in February 2022.

A fortnight ago, LeFA suspended Lesotho’s participation in the CAF Champions League due to the high costs of hosting international games in South Africa following Setsoto Stadium’s continued ban by Africa’s governing body, CAF and FIFA.

Setsoto is one of the 23 stadiums across Africa that were banned in May 2021 by FIFA and in February 2022 by CAF for not meeting CAF’s standards for hosting international matches and the improvements mandated by CAF have not been done.

The developments required by CAF include massive renovation, re-grassing, installing modern floodlights and a standby generator.

Likuena are, however, still involved in the 2023 AFCON qualifiers and should Setsoto remain banned by February next year, the team would need to play their game in South African soil, costing football body money which Phafane complain they don’t have.

Lesotho is scheduled to host Zambia next March in its next home qualifier.

Phafane lashed out that lack of support by the past government has affected local businesses who survive from football matches hosted inland.

He said LeFA and government can get Setsoto Stadium back in good conditions to meet CAF’s requirements only when there is collaboration.

“I am confident that under the new leadership at the Ministry, LeFA will enjoy their home again and we are hoping the government especially Ministry of Education will support grassroots and youth programmes at schools to foster development,” said Phafane.

Responding to Phafane’s blast, the ministry’s Information Officer in the sports department, Thulo Matsepe, revealed that bad relations between the ministry and LeFA emanated from lack of funds.

He said everything else was a misunderstanding birthed by the same issue of funding.

Matsepe said they could not provide LeFA with the funds it needed due to the financial crisis that had hit the Ministry and the government.

“We do not have anything against the association, especially because the association is a member of Lesotho Sports and Reaction Commission (LSRC), which we work directly with.”

“Unfortunately every time when they requested funds and we did not have them, they would think we have something against them and that was not the case,” Matsepe explained.

He noted that the government was working towards fixing pending issues of Setsoto Stadium.

“We are working towards fixing Setsoto Stadium issues and they (LeFA) and other stakeholders have been involved.”

 “From there we are going to work on improving the budgets and getting the funds for all the associations so that there would be progress,” Matsepe said.

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