There is widespread concern that the standard of soccer in Tanzania is in decline. Whether that is indeed the case or it is an exaggeration, there is an urgent need to recapture the glory we enjoyed in our heyday – and that means engaging in hard, remedial work.
And the image enhancement drive should not be confined to playing good soccer and beat whatever teams we meet in international competitions.
Various factors are at play in the whole issue of creating an attractive image overseas and at home, among them meeting contractual obligations between players, officials and coaches hired by clubs and the national soccer governing.
The recent disputes highlighted by world soccer governing body FIFA with regard to the plight of former Young Africans (Yanga) Serbian coach Kostadin Papic and Kenyan player John Odhiambo have surely portrayed Tanzanian soccer in poor light.
Yanga is duty bound to pay Papic whatever outstanding dues he is entitled to, which effectively end the tussles between the two parties and thus spare us disgrace resulting from contractual infringements we could have done without.
It is irrelevant for the current Yanga leadership to say the Serbian coach has inflated the figure with respect to his dues, for the club ought to have been through with the matter before the coach left for home last May.
With regard to Kenyan player Odhiambo, Yanga were ordered to pay him compensation resulting from breach of contract since January – a whole eight months ago! Why it has taken the club all this long to attend to issue remains a riddle.
Why in the first place should Yanga wait for threats of censure from FIFA before waking up from slumber and then begin disputing the player’s claims?
All this suggests that the club had either ignored or just played down the importance of meeting its contractual obligations.
All sports clubs and national teams should always distance from disputes arising from failure to honour contractual obligations, particularly with respect to remuneration packages.
Even a single wrong move by a single club can seriously taint the image of all of us a nation, complete with unpleasant consequences such as missing the services of foreign coaches and risking missing the trust of the outside world.
It’s high time the Tanzania Football Federation introduced a “protection” clause in its rules and regulations to ensure that all club wishing to contract foreign and even local coaches or player can in fact abide by the contracts both parties enter into to avoid repeats of this kind of embarrassment.
Repeated complaints from foreign players and coaches in connection with promises not kept can only do us harm and not any good.
Before TFF takes further steps to ensure harmony between coaches, players and club officials, Yanga must fairly compensate Papic and Odhiambo, failing which stern measures should be taken against the club.
Doing so would underscore the need for all concerned – in soccer and in other sports – to keep promises and adhere to contractual terms.
Soccer has a massive following in Tanzania and it is crucial that we steer clear of anything that could bring it into disrepute.