Government has confirmed that Uganda risks playing its World Cup Qualifiers in neighbouring countries unless the World football governing body FIFA and the Confederation of African Federation (CAF) lifts the ban on Mandela National Stadium.
In May last year, the Confederation of African Federation (CAF) and Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) disqualified Mandela National Stadium from hosting the forthcoming 2022 world cup qualifiers, saying the facility is substandard.
The football bodies found the pitch, toilets, pavilion and dressing rooms in Namboole in very bad shape and recommended total renovation. Namboole has been the home ground for the national team, the Uganda Cranes since 2002.
The only option for Uganda is St Mary’s Stadium in Kitende. Although Kitende passed the CAF standards for the Africa cup, it is yet to get a node for the World Cup. The cranes are lined up to play Mali, Kenya and Rwanda in-group E in home and away games.
The Sports Minister, Hamson Obua, says that they need about Shillings 96 billion to renovate Namboole stadium. He, however, says that time has already run out even if the money is released and they are currently waiting for approval of St Mary’s College Kitende.
He was responding to concerns raised by Silas Aogon, the Kumi Municipality MP who tasked the Education and Sports Ministry to respond to media reports that Uganda does not have a stadium to host international world cup qualifiers following the Namboole ban.
“I have seen in that media that FIFA has put a ban on activities in Namboole most especially hosting international games. This perturbs because it comes at the time our icon Denis Onyango is retiring, does it mean Government is retiring supporting Namboole? What is taking place in Namboole, I thought Namboole is a facility that generates its own money,” he said.
In his response, Obua confirmed the FIFA ban on Namboole after failing to meet the set standards world by the world and regional body.
“In the circumstances, Uganda only has St Mary’s Kitende and if the team of inspectors who are currently doing inspection for the world cup qualifiers do not approve it. I want to put the country on notice that the country will have no choice but to host all our world cup qualifiers in one of the countries outside Uganda,” he said.
Following the ban on Namboole, the Education and Sports Minister, Janet Museveni wrote to the Works and Transport Ministry to constitute a team to conduct a needs assessment and upgrade of the stadium.
Obua said that the Ministry of Education and Sports included what Mandela national stadium requires in short term in this year’s budget but it falls under unfunded priorities because the indicative planning figures could not accommodate the Shillings 96 billion need for the facility. URN