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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

TFF should asses domestic fixtures

25th February 2012
Editorial cartoon

The advent of live television coverage of events has started to have telling effect on how sports fans make their choices on what to watch.

The decision on what league or match one watches has also been afforded to Tanzanian fans, thanks to greater availability of the broadcast signal from around the world.

The development should make Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) more alert in what it does to keep the loyalty of local soccer fans. It is not only about proper planning of domestic fixtures, but also about doing more to raise the quality of local tournaments.

What we are saying is that TFF should no longer take fans for granted or assume that they will automatically fill stadiums to watch a local match, when most of them could be more entertained watching a well packaged foreign match.

A growing number of Tanzanian football fans are thus taking interest in and closely following the English and other European premiership leagues. Some have even signed up club memberships, cementing loyalties.

The fans are increasingly obsessed with European football and there is no sign that they will be drifting back into local stadiums in big numbers in the near future, even when big teams are clashing, unless more is done to improve packaging.

This poses a new challenge to domestic league fixtures particularly when they coincide with major European leagues.

TFF will have only itself to blame if it fails to take this development into account when planning ways to improve local soccer. A big match in the European league can easily ruin local expectations in terms of stadium attendance and therefore revenues from gate collections.

A typical example was the Mainland premiership match between Simba and Azam at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam a fortnight ago. That match was one of the handfuls that draw huge crowds to the stadium, given the rivalry and the competitive spirit that accompanies it.

But this one performed poorly in terms of attendance and revenue collections. The number of spectators who attended the match was relatively low. Others stayed at home to watch the United-Liverpool match that was on at the same time.

The TFF league committee should be taking note of these developments and making the necessary adjustments.

Football fans in Tanzania and elsewhere are going global and it is the TFF that needs to review its domestic fixtures so as to attract them back into the stadiums.

Soccer has now become a big commercial activity that could make a huge difference in the fortunes of the Federation, clubs and players, if handled properly.

Businesses will only be attracted to put their money into sponsorships if they are happy with spectator numbers, quality of the teams, matches and the organisational set-up.

We are of course aware of the beginning of efforts to factor in as many considerations as possible when planning a fixture as shown the other day when TFF delayed the Stars-DRC clash to enable workers attend after office work.

TFF must do the same for other soccer fixtures, assessing their likely distractive impact on potential stadium attendance and therefore revenue collection in our domestic league.

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