MASERU – Failure by some clubs in the national elite league to account for expenditure of funds disbursed to them by the national football association under the FIFA COVID-19 Relief Fund has put them in a collision course with the local football administrators. This emerges as the Lesotho Football Administration (LeFA) receives the second tranche of the funding, and demands reports from recipient clubs.
LeFA Secretary General, Mokhosi Mohapi, revealed during a virtual media conference this week that some of the clubs failed to report satisfactorily how they spent the first portion of the relief money. Mohapi said the association was likely to withhold disbursement of the FIFA money to suspect clubs.
He said this was a thorny issue as even some A-Division clubs have managed to furnish satisfactory reports, citing ACE Maseru FC as an example. Apart from the possibility of such clubs being disregarded while the second tranche is given out to support clubs, “there’s also the possibility of suspension from all football activities under the auspices of LeFA for such teams.”
“If you read the regulations that we issued to the teams, which they signed upon affiliation to the association, there is the issue of possible suspension from all football activities under the auspices of the association for disreputable conduct…and if that also speaks to the element of promotion and relegation that will be the case,” said Mohapi.
He further said: “Again, if the league is going to be played to a finish, the clubs will have to account for how they spent the money they were given before the league comes to an end, and if they fail to do so they will not be allowed to register for the next season.”
LeFA received the first tranche of the FIFA COVID-19 Relief Fund last year to the tune of $500 000 (M8 660 000) at the time’s exchange rate. In the then 14-team premier league clubs received M80 000 each, amounting to a total M1 120 000.
The association received the second portion last month. In the current season the number of premier league clubs has increased to 16, but Mohapi said they are still going to disburse the second tranche basing themselves on the 14 clubs which made the league in the previous season.
“With this second tranche, we will still be giving out money to 14 of 16 clubs now in the premier league. The reason is simple; it is because the COVID-19 Relief Fund, as issued by FIFA, was for the season 2019/2020. And in 2019/20 we had 14 clubs in the premier league and so the 2020/21 season was not subjected to the COVID-19 funding as it were per the regulations.”
Mohapi said the 14 premier league clubs would each get M66 591.22 in the second tranche, from M960 277.14 that his office has allocated to the top-flight league. He said the A-Division clubs (20) would each get M34 296.61 from M685 912.12 in the second tranche. This is less than what they received in the first tranche where each got M40 000 from the total M800 000.
“I know there are other clubs that were promoted from the B-Division to the A-Division, but the relief fund as I repeat is for the 2019/20 season. They will not be part of this offering,” Mohapi said. The B-Division clubs (458 in all) received M10 000 each in the first tranche, amounting to the disbursement total of M4 580 000.
“But now as a result of the decrease in the exchange rate, we will be disbursing M8 573.90. This brings us to the total of M3 926 847.58 that would be shared among the 458 clubs nation-wide,” Mohapi said.
Football and all other sporting codes remain suspended due to the COVID-19 resurgence in the country, which forced stricter restrictions. The suspension of sports was effected in the beginning of the year, hardly two months after the return to active football, after the a first suspension from April to October 2020.