Football fans and sports lovers are disappointed over the failure by Uganda Broadcasting Corporation-UBC to broadcast the Africa Cup of Nations-AFCON 2017 that is ongoing in Gabon. The national football team, the Uganda Cranes is one of the teams participating in the tournament after struggling to qualify for the last 38 years in vain.
Uganda Cranes takes to the pitch at 7pm this evening against the black stars of Ghana at Port Gentil stadium in Gabon. Despite the excitement generated by Uganda’s qualification for the tournament, majority of Ugandans are likely to miss the live action, since the national broadcaster will not air the matches citing lack of funds to pay for the rights.
Only those with pay television are guaranteed to catch the live action as it unveils at Port Gentil stadium. On January 13th, 2017, the UBC management issued statement, saying they had failed to secure the Shillings 2 billion for the rights. Apparently, the Federation of International Football Association-FIFA and Confederation of African Federation (CAF) sold the Free to Air Television rights for the AFCON 2017 games to Lagardère Sports and Entertainment, a France-based entity.
Lagardère Sports and Entertainment offered the rights to UBC through the Africa Union of Broadcasters (AUB) at €550,000 an equivalent of Shillings 2.1 billion. However, UBC failed to raise the minute and missed on the chance to broadcast Africa’s premier football games.
The failure by UBC to broadcast the games has not gone down well with football fans and lovers in Kampala. Lawrence Kaggwa, a sports lover says it is a great disappointment that UBC is not broadcasting AFCON, yet this was a big opportunity for Ugandans to see their players on the international stage.
Eddie Nsereko, another football fan says that it is a shame that after 38 years of waiting Ugandans can’t watch their own team in action on national TV. He says despite the fact that it is inconvenient to watch the games from bars, they will have to bear with it.
Another fan who only identified himself as Denis, says majority of Ugandans will miss out on the games since they can’t afford pay television services. He says watching African cup of nations on UBC promoted players from different countries and this time it was time to promote home talent.
A boda boda rider who preferred to remain anonymous questioned why Government doesn’t care about sports. He says apart from investing in other areas like roads, government should make sports a priority.
Samuel Musolini says he used to watch UBC a lot and was counting on it to relay the AFCON games. He says he now has to look for a restaurant, video hall or bar to watch the games for a fee yet he would have preferred to do so in the comfort of his home.
Winston Agaba, the UBC Managing Director says this is the first time the national broadcaster is failing to broadcaster an international sporting event. He however, blames it on the commercialization of the events.