GSM Group's league sponsorship move adds to confusing picture

27Nov 2021
By Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
GSM Group's league sponsorship move adds to confusing picture

​​​​​​​WHILE football analysts were still pondering what is happening in the NBC Premier League, especially following the questionable penalty given to Young Africans SC, alias 'Yanga', and even the manner it was taken in its Namungo FC encounter, enabling it to register fairly positive-

Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) First Vice-President, Athuman Nyamlani (R), and GSM Group Investment Director, Hersi Said, pose for a picture with a dummy cheque once the firm sealed the contract with the federation for sponsoring NBC Premier League in Dar es Salaam recently. The two-year sponsorship is valued at 2.1bn/-. PHOTO: TFF

-results in the last minutes of the game.

This issue has been extensively discussed as it merely touches on the referee’s intentions or abilities, while earlier troubling situations where Simba SC faced far more than its fair share of fouls wasn’t being aired.

To wit, players of opposing sides were being motivated to do all they can to win, fair or foul, for a generous cash bonus.

It was getting increasingly obvious that this motivation could not have come from inside the club as it is an unwise investment for players to seek three points against Simba SC, above all else.

They could allow such encounters to slide and obtain better results with more manageable sides, but there was an inspiration to get the points from Simba SC, and what’s more, it did not come from club leaders in the first place.

It seemed to stem from the regional leadership when the team was in play, how could they promise cash?

In that case, the news about GSM Group moving to add two billion shillings in a two-year contract with the soccer federation just as questions were being raised as to how referees conduct themselves in matches relating to premier league archrivals was a bit out of the ordinary.

It was the Jangwani Street club that seemed to be playing games with the minds of referees.

The penalty award against Namungo FC and its taking occurred in a manner that even strident supporters of the club were facing difficulties to affirm that it was well-intentioned, fair, or professional conduct on the part of the ref. Were the issues going too far?

There is an expression, ‘where there is trouble, slip in a coin,’ in which case GSM Group would move to shift the gear in its relationship with the soccer fraternity as a whole, not to be identified with the club side.

This way, when the soccer fraternity is engrossed in thanksgiving about the billion shilling addition to club funds this year, energy will not be directed at the referee, and even if this occurred, it would be a minimal gesture, a perfunctory exercise.

Nor would anyone remember the excess motivation of the premier league side against Simba SC, or who stands to benefit from this irrational do-or-die effort against that side.

There was hence a feeling in some quarters that this gesture, while it popularizes the company’s name to soccer viewers and makes its logo or other advert appear in stadia or sports programs prominently enough, could have more to it than meets the eye.

Was the offer an expression of moving out of the Yanga club sphere and branching off into something else, making its club ties secondary, or is it the converse, where it extends its club commitment to seek a sort of loyalty in TFF?

Is it a way of shutting out loud voices against the company’s conduct that it seeks to nestle next to TFF, or is it professional?

With scores of Yanga supporters registering their misgivings as to the all-important penalty being awarded to their side, trying to give the benefit of doubt to the referee, while the majority of fans without explicit commitment to Yanga were openly scornful of the referee’s conduct, hedging up the firm’s presence in the soccer arena as a whole was a plausible proposition.

This is especially the case if there is a provision where a finger can be raised at the company for negatively influencing the conduct of players and referees in the premier league, and such a complaint is directed at the world federation, FIFA.

The company ought to rein in their horsemen so that things don’t get that far.

For once, Jangwani Street no longer appears to be on the same winning streak as earlier, such that the 1-1 draw with Namungo FC was seen as lucky on their part, while Simba was emphatic with a 3-1 win over Ruvu Shooting, a side that Yanga had played out to the same margin earlier.

Ruvu Shooting coach Charles Boniface Mkwasa ‘Master,’ a veteran Yanga insider, credited their loss to Yanga to the referee, a disciplinary breach or it could be so suspected.

Chances that he could do the same thing for Simba SC margin were more limited, and perhaps he draw a greater reason for substantial margin with Simba than in the earlier encounter.

In that case, both sides have a lot of team building to do but confidence may slide in Yanga after the Namungo FC debacle, while Simba stands a better chance for team uplift especially if Clatous Chama touches down during the mini registration window following the Christmas holidays.

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