Hope for football in Uganda?

It was interesting to see the following article in Red Pepper Uganda:

It was interesting to see the following article in Red Pepper Uganda:

‘Academicians define ‘Political Economy’ as a branch of social science that studies the relationships between individuals, society, markets and the state, using a diverse set of tools and methods drawn largely from economics, political science, and sociology. They further contend that ‘Political Economy’ can be understood as the study of how a country—the public’s household—is managed or governed, taking into account both political and economic factors.

How does this relate to sport, and, more especially football?  Wyn Grant, Professor of Politics, University of Warwick, who writes a Political Economy blog, has observed in his piece, ‘Is there a political economy of football?,’ that football often likes to see itself as a world apart from society and politics, but it is susceptible to political economy analysis. He observes that in football there is so much interaction between technology, market structure and regulation.That football is no longer resistant to technology such as floodlights, DVD technology, satellite broadcasting,goal line technology, blockbuster movies etc. is a fact..

Prof. Grant observes: “Clubs like Manchester United, acquired by the Glazers through a leveraged buy-out, selltheir merchandise across the globe. They have sponsorship contracts tailored to each national market –including a paint sponsor, for example, from Japan. Foreign investment in the game has grown. Most footballclubs run at a loss and the only way you can make money is through capital appreciation.”

All this means money and politics. And I had not realized this was possible in Uganda until I got electedchairman of the FUFA Super League, a company managing the top-flight 16 football clubs in Uganda, nine months ago.This is when I noticed that there was a brand named the Uganda Premier League, similar to the popular English Premier League, in Uganda, which had immense economic potential.

With a three year title sponsorship of nearly Shs. 5 billion, the league is not only renamed ‘Azam UgandaPremier League,’ it has brought in foreign exchange and shook the political leadership taking sport as a seriousventure for not only political mobilization, but as a tool for activating citizen engagement. What would happenif the number of sponsors increased to ten? You would have an economy rivaling Keith Muhakanizi’s 2016/17budget!

Consequently, I was not surprised when two weeks ago, the Minister for Education and Sports, Hon Janet Museveni, did what many Ugandans thought would never emerge from the President Yoweri Museveni’s government- unveiling a plan to build sports complex around the country.

Hon. Museveni unveiled a group of Egyptian investors from the $400m rich Wadi Degla Company, which ownsa string of sports complexes in Egypt especially mini Olympic villages in the whole of Egypt including one big one at Six October. They also own a premier league football club called Wadidegla, which is the third on the table of the Egyptian Tier.’

African domestic football has been beset by many problems, not least the fact that the most talented players go to play in Europe.   There have also been serious issues of governance in many African countries. Let’s hope that the optimism expressed in this article is justified.