Last week, CAF decided to hold the bull by its horns by taking the first step in equipping African clubs with the necessary knowledge and information about club licensing. CAF held the first-ever seminar to educate clubs on the matter.
This two-day seminar was held in Cape Town, South Africa on the sidelines of the 2014 Africa Nations Championship and attracted 37 African clubs that included Zambia’s Zesco United.
Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president, Kalusha Bwalya, who is a CAF committee member, also attended the workshop as one of the moderators.
According to CAF, the essence of the seminar was to equip participants with the requisite knowledge and information about club licensing and the tenets of the fast-growing professionalism in football.
Clubs were taught the role of CAF, national associations, leagues and teams in competitions and club licensing.
The need for clubs to completely turn professional by having all the necessary requirements like having a proper management structure in place. Each club is also expected to have its own stadium and have a youth policy aimed at creating its nursery.
The issues of television rights, broadcasting and production of matches in Africa were also told to the participants. Other topics tackled were the marketing of competitions and sponsorship for clubs, legal issues concerning clubs and players’ status.
African clubs were also accorded an opportunity to look at how the club licensing system was operating in other continents like Europe and Asia.
As enriching as the CAF seminar seemed to have been, I still believe most of the Zambian clubs cannot meet these benchmarks.
FAZ set 2014 as the year for the implementation of club licensing, starting with the 16 teams in the Premier Division League.
Truth need to be told, Zesco is but just among a few local clubs that can manage to implement some of these requirements.
Despite FAZ holding workshops on club licensing for the 16 Premiership clubs last year, the national football governing body still need to do more in ensuring these requirements are embraced by all stakeholders.
One issue which most clubs in Zambia will struggle to have is the one-club one-sponsor arrangement. Most corporate entities supporting football in Zambia sponsor more than two clubs like Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) who bankroll three Premiership sides – Nchanga Rangers, Konkola Blades and Konkola Mine Police. KCM also support a Division One team, Nampundwe.
While club licensing is good for football development, FAZ needs to tread cautiously on this matter as rushing it could lead to the collapsing of some of our cherished but struggling local clubs.
Let us engage all stakeholders.