Early this week, national football team players at the ongoing Afcon tournament in Egypt refused to leave their Radisons Blu Hotel residence in Cairo for a scheduled training session citing unpaid bonuses.
News made rounds that each Cranes player demanded about Shs22 million ($6,000) for beating DRC and drawing with Zimbabwe in the group stages of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Federation of Uganda Football Associations (Fufa) quickly issued a statement insisting that all players have been paid outstanding dues amounting to about Shs54 million each as of Tuesday, July 2 but with no satisfactory backing of proof of payment.
But the players maintained that Fufa still owes them about Shs37 million each.
According to URN, the money in question was a promise from the federation for qualification to the 2019 Nations Cup and not the Shs2b given by President Museveni for the team to share after they sealed a place in Egypt.
The situation later deteriorated to ‘my word against your word’ as there were counter accusations from either party with social media later joining the fray as the hashtag #Payourplayers went viral.
With Fufa slowly losing the plot, a hastily organised meeting between three senior Cranes players, Minister Charles Bakabulindi together with other officials from the sports ministry and Fufa in Cairo concluded that the players get $6,000 as an extra incentive from the money that was agreed upon in the code of conduct signed between the two parties.
Bakabulindi was accompanied by a Commissioner from the Ministry of Education and Sports Omara Apitta plus FUFA officials; Hamid Juma, Abdul Lukooya Ssekabira and the financial director, Decolas Kiiza while players were represented by Captain Dennis Onyango, his assistant Hassan Wasswa Mawanda and Emanuel Okwi. Head coach Sébastien Desabre intervened when things were getting too heated, according to reports.
The compromise was also reached after another emergency Executive committee meeting in Kampala on Wednesday.
After the meeting, the players headed for the mandatory medical test which is done before every training session.
Immediately after, Fufa released another statement on the developments saying the desire by the players to be rewarded beyond the agreed structure is a concern.
“Despite the above efforts and clarifications, the continued desire by the players to be rewarded beyond the agreed structure for the historic qualification to the Round of 16 continues to be a concern of the playing staff,” the statement reads.
“Considering the magnitude and importance of the event of Uganda Cranes match against the Teranga Lions of Senegal, the interests of the nation, government, the sponsors, and the gallant fans, Fufa has agreed to pay $6,000 (Shs22 million) over and above the agreed terms in the code of conduct,” the statement reads in part. “Matters of finances will not be discussed until the end of Uganda Cranes participation in the tournament. This position has been duly communicated to the players. It is therefore expected that the technical preparation of the team ahead of the match with Senegal will continue in accordance with the programme of the coach.”
All 22 players who are in camp later trained at the Arab Constructors Stadium albeit three hours after the official scheduled time of training with only Hassan Wasswa who is ill the only absentee from the training.