NFA pursues Stars over ‘loan’

Ronald Ketjijere in action for African Stars during their 2-0 defeat to Unam on 18 February 2024. Photo: Helge Schütz

The Namibia Football Association (NFA) is hounding African Stars for outstanding funds from a ‘loan’ it denied lending to the club for its short-lived Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League campaign.

The NFA said African Stars owes it about N$760 000, down from the total bill just shy of N$1,4 million for accommodation, field rentals, transport and other related costs.

To date the NFA has received N$631 000 from the club, the bulk of which came from deductions on the monthly grants that Stars gets from the NFA-run Namibia Premier Football League.

Last year, while under the stewardship of a Fifa Normalisation Committee, the NFA went to great lengths to conceal information pertaining to covering Stars’ expenses.

Stars, the reigning Namibian premiership title-holders, were eliminated at the first preliminary round stage of the champions league in August, after losing the two-legged tie on away goals to Power Dynamos of Zambia.

The outstanding amount is for the home leg, which Stars hosted in Johannesburg, South Africa, where Namibian teams, including the national sides, play their home international matches in the continued absence of Fifa minimum standard stadiums.

The substantive NFA leadership was elected in mid-November last year and proceeded to recover funds from debtors for its empty coffers.

“The NFA hereby informs you that the NFA will deduct any grant, or prize money of any competition due to African Stars FC to credit to the outstanding debt by African Stars FC until the debt has been settled in full,” NFA interim general secretary Jochen Traut wrote in a notice to African Stars.

“Should you have any plans or financial means to rescue this debt earlier, please do so. A proposed debt repayment plan would be appreciated.

“In the absence of a formal payback plan for the amount of N$1 389 825 in debt African Stars has encountered with the NFA in participating in the CAF Championship, the NFA needs to find ways in recovering those monies.”

When the issue flared up last year, the NFA denied taking on costs on behalf for Stars. This is perhaps because its creditors were breathing down its neck, and while it also had failed to settle the national teams’ fees for several matches.

“The NFA wishes to assure its members and the public that all the rumours that the NFA funded African Stars Football Club to participate in the CAF Champions League home and away matches are not only false, but malicious and devoid of all truth. It is our firm conviction that domestic football is supported by all football-lovers and that the NFA will not incur expenses and costs that are contrary to NFA’s financial governance policy,” the NFA said in a press statement on 11 September 2023.

Stars blamed the NFA for not being able to play on home soil after failing to timeously communicate to CAF the club’s intention to host its match at the Hage Geingob Stadium, which is primarily a rugby stadium but had adjustments made to comply with CAF regulations.

“African Stars FC was, therefore, given a Hobson’s choice by the NFA decision to host the match in South Africa, either to withdraw from the competition and face the wrath of CAF or participate at great costs,” African Stars’ executive chairman Patrick Kauta said in an email to Traut on 16 August 2023, which The Namibian Sport has seen.

“As a result, we called and met the NFA to see how best to ameliorate the dire financial consequences to both the NFA and African Stars FC. The NFA produced a budget which we attach. Both parties met with the sports commission and wrote supporting motivations,” Kauta said.

In response, Traut appeared apprehensive of the arrangement and informed Stars that the NFA did “not have financial resources to fund or assist African Stars in this endeavour”.

Stars planned to “refund either from its own resources or from CAF if they reach the group stages”, which did not transpire.

In the event that the NFA granted Stars their wish, Traut asked that “the directors hold themselves personally liable with the company for this assistance, should it be provided”, given that the club is a registered private company.

Kauta assured Traut that the club’s directors would “sign suretyship agreements” and asked the same of the NFA.

“When everything is said and done, colleagues, we shall take the financial punch, but we need NFA equally to agree in writing that all CAF and Ministry [of Sport, Youth and National Service] income as a result of African Stars participation, the NFA will pay over to African Stars FC. We respectfully submit that that is fair,” Kauta said.

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