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NO COMPLIANCE, NO PLAY – EFA TO PLE TEAMS

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MBABANE – Implementation of the latest CAF Club Licensing standards in the country will take football one step forward.

This is more so because professionalism has been sung for too long with implementation proving very slow towards that. the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Club Licensing standards appeared conspicuously compromised by football authorities and the elite clubs. Some clubs had remained elite even when CAF stated categorically clear they deserved to be relegated to lower leagues, suspended or fined yet they failed to even register junior teams under the Premier League of Eswatini (PLE). Some of the CAF Club Licensing requirements  include setting up junior structures; Under-15s and Under-17s, having qualified personnel for senior and junior teams while having fully equipped offices with a full-time secretary and/or chief executive officer (CEO), among the main requirements which of course include the challenging financial statements that show a healthy budget to run the club, even if it qualified for CAF interclub competitions like the TOTALEnergies CAF Champions League and TOTALEnergies CAF Confederation Cup.

Requirements

It is a requirement as indicated in correspondences sent to the PLE by the EFA which clubs also received last month and even attended workshops on the subject, that each one provides lease agreement for their training grounds which must have ablutions as well as same for match venues. They are as well required to provide medical certificates for players or registration of the player cannot go ahead. Just early this year, CAF dropped a bombshell which took most African teams by surprise. It was said elite women teams and sound development structure would soon be a requirement to play in the inter-club tournaments. CAF had wanted it working as of the upcoming CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup 2022/23, where Eswatini is represented by Royal Leopard and Mbabane Highlanders respectively.

CAF suspended the women football requirement to allow teams to establish the structures, but it is anticipated that next season all elite teams should have women football teams to qualify for registration even with the EFA. This is also about the financial muscle of the elite teams which CAF wants to be guaranteed, as opposed to the prevailing situation in the country where teams have repeatedly failed to pay players and also used ‘made up’ figures in contracts to have players registered yet not a cent being received as salary.

The EFA wants this to stop as per CAF’s instructions. EFA has since issued Circular No. 183 which mainly announces the first registration window period to be starting on August 8 until October 21, this year. However, it also provides that in any other circumstances, the final date for registration outside the official window is November 11, that caters for status committee cases among other things. The second window starts on January 16, 2023 to February 10, 2023 with the latest being March 3, 2023 for exceptional circumstances or special cases. It also then puts out the licensing challenge some teams may face ahead of the new season.

Regulations

“No club at Premier League and National First Division League therefore, will be allowed to register to play in the 2022/2023 football season without having complied with the club licencing regulations,” part of the circular read thus. It is also states that teams were expected to have registered or affiliated by the first official match and they are electronically registered through the FIFA/EFA electronic system. Premier League of Eswatini (PLE) Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Makhanya also affirmed the circular and acknowledged it, but was caught at a busy moment as he could not give much information.

However, EFA Communications and Marketing Officer Muzi Radebe had recently spoken and written about these requirements aimed at professionalising football. Even stadiums were expected to meet certain international standards. Eswatini currently has no complying stadium to host category A international matches. Meanwhile, the Circular also noted that the 2022/2023 football season would be starting next month for national level while regional football is billed for mid-October. Regional Super Leagues are expected to have concluded their activities by the end of this month so to give teams that will be promoted into first division a chance to prepare.

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