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FIFA: Namibian Football On Edge To Be Suspended

Minister of sport, youth and national service, Agnes Tjongarero
Thursday's highly anticipated intervention in Namibia's raging football crisis turned into an underwhelming public relations exercise at best. In short, six well-off individuals who are past their youth will be raking in untold sums of taxpayers' hard-earned dollars for a month's break to deliberate on a solution, while young people continue to languish in destitution.

The football resolution committee has been given a month to find a lasting remedy to the nearly two-year long standoff between the Namibia Football Association (NFA) and its former affiliate the Namibia Premier League (NPL). Minister of sport, youth and national service Agnes Tjongarero, who has already had elaborate talks with both parties with no success, will then use their recommendation to pave the way forward. This, she will have to do without treading on Fifa's toes as the world football governor frowns upon government interference in football disputes.

Should Fifa deem this procedure an intrusion, it may well suspend Namibian football. At Tjongarero's behest, the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) "collected a lot of information" before settling on Heritah Nankole Muyoba, Bro-Matthew Shinguandja, Stanley Mutoya, Roswitha Gomachas, Walter Donn and Thomas Mbeeli to decide on the fate of football. "The situation has reached an alarming level. We are looking to find long-lasting harmony," Tjongarero said.

At the centre of the prevailing storm is the NPL's desire to be recognised as a second national football body with no links to the NFA, which is Fifa's branch in the country. The NPL also intends to run a professional league. They have applied for membership with the NSC. "It's not just about the registration, the system is filled with inconsistencies. We cannot just sit on the fence and be spectators. We are going to address the issue holistically," said deputy minister of sport, youth and national service Emma Kantemma-Gaomas.

Tjongarero vehemently denied that she is favouring one side over the other and accused the media of pushing an unwarranted narrative. "I never said I'm on the NPL or NFA's side. This is a position the media has put me in. You should have that answer since this came from you," she said dismissively. Her actions are however not consistent with her statement. Tjongarero is on record as saying that she was not opposed to the formation of a second football national body or premier league in the country. She stopped the sports commission from making public its ruling on the NPL's application on Saturday.

The NSC board is understood to have rejected the NPL's request, which led to the formation of the remedial committee, presenting the league body a lifeline. Yesterday, Tjongarero refused to entertain a query on Fifa's position on the draining saga. Last week, Fifa threw its weight behind the NFA, saying a breakaway football league as envisaged by the NPL was unacceptable and only recognises the NFA to "organise and supervise football in all of its forms" in the country.

"Where's the letter from the NFA to Fifa? I'm sorry I cannot answer that question as I do not know what was in the NFA's letter to Fifa," Tjongarero said. However, it is unclear what changes, if any, the temporary organ will effect with the NSC, since Tjongarero and her predecessor Erastus Uutoni all failed to resolve the dispute. "We are guided by the constitution. Everything is done by the book. No-one can come and say what we have done is non-procedural," NFA acting secretary general Franco Cosmos said in reaction to the new development.

The sports commission has no objection to how the new NFA leadership came into office, a process that the NPL chairperson challenged at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.He has since withdrawn the appeal, while the NPL still has a pending matter with the CAS against its suspension by the NFA last year. Furthermore, the NSC also said the NFA extraordinary congress in July, when the NPL was ejected from the NFA roster, was above board.

"The NPL never declared we don't want to play football. We always maintained that we want to play. It's because of the expulsion that everything was stopped," NPL chief executive officer Harald Fuelle said. "I hope that this time the NFA is listening to suggestions and perhaps also start moving away from that standpoint that it's only them that can dictate football. Yes, I know they are the mother body, but there are different ideas and directions we need to follow as well," he said. "In the meetings with the minister, the NPL made a move towards a compromise; the NFA didn't."
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