With just a few hours to the much anticipated round of 16 game against the Lions of Teranga, news filtered through that Cranes players had refused to take part in training, protesting their unpaid bonuses.
The bonuses, players said totaled to about Sh22 million ($6,000) each for beating DRC and drawing with Zimbabwe in the group stages of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, currently ongoing in Egypt.
A win for the Cranes in Afcon fetches $4,000 (Shs14,829,225.59) for each player while a draw earns each $2000 (Shs7,414,612).
$5,000 will be dished out if the Cranes can defeat Senegal on Friday, while each player will receive $7,000 and $9,000 if they win a quarterfinal and semifinal respectively. Winning the Final will fetch each of the 23 players $14,630 (Shs54,248,168).
But according to Ahmed Hussein, the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (Fufa) communications manager, the federation has already paid up the accrued amounts to each player as per a Code of Conduct every member of the team signed before being allowed into the camp.
“Fufa wishes to affirm that matters of the rights and obligations of the members of the Uganda Cranes at the AFCON 2019 inclusive of the allowances and bonuses of the team were discussed and agreed upon by the team and were put into a document called the Code of Conduct,” Hussein said in a statement to Watchdog Uganda.
“As of 2nd July 2019, each player has received up to $14,600 USD (Shs55m) already with more daily allowances and winning bonuses awaiting to be earned and paid on time.”
When asked why the players would refuse to train even after all their monies, amounting to about Shs2billion had been paid, Hussein said ‘only they can tell.’
The Cranes camp in Egypt is not the only one that has been rocked by pay disputes.
Reigning champions, Cameroon refused to fly to Egypt to defend their title after failing to agree on how much to be paid as bonuses. After the pay dispute was settled, the team flew to Egypt, but arrived late.
Zimbabwe also threatened to boycott their first group game against hosts Egypt, until they were cleared.
“The tactic often works with African governments often going the extra mile to resolve the disputes and avoid the high risk of embarrassment and possibly being blamed for sabotaging prestigious tournaments,” writes Yomi Kazeem in an article titled ‘Late cash demands have become a sadly familiar tournament ritual of African soccer.
Do you have a story in your community or an opinion to share with us: Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org