Coaches, referees worry for future

Sports Correspondent

20 May, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Local coaches are worried about the players and their own financial outlook as Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) called off Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) 2019–20 and Independence Cup 2020 without taking any decision on the wages of the coaches.

The decision was made in an emergency meeting of BFF Executive Committee on Monday. Coaches of top-flight BPL clubs also believed that the decision will demotivate country’s footballers especially young booters. 

“I know the present situation isn’t good for football. I think it will become more difficult in future, but clubs could take some more time before taking the decision. They haven’t taken any decision on our wages and contracts. It is a big issue. It is true that most of the clubs have been facing financial crisis amid lockdown, some big clubs such as Bashundhara Kings, Dhaka Abahani, Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra are able to pay their respective players in this situation. What about the others? What will they do now?” asked Rahmatganj Muslim Friends Society Head Coach Sayed Golam Jilani on Tuesday. 

“Only 20 to 30 percent of the players are financially solvent. They play for big clubs and earn a significant amount of money. They can offer to take a wage reduction or pay cut. But others, especially the players who have been playing for the low-budget teams, will struggle a lot due to wage cuts. It will demotivate our players and force them to change their profession. I know some of young players from other leagues such as Bangladesh Championship League (BCL); they fear about their future. Most of our footballers belong to poor families. I think federation, clubs should think about them,” the Rahmatganj coach added.    The cancellation of BPL will also have an impact on booters’ mental health and performance. 

“We have been out of the field for two and a half months. No camps, no tanning. We gave players some sort of fitness schedule to follow, we tried to keep them mentally fit and confident. But after the decision, they will be frustrated and will lose their fitness,” Jilani further said. Due to the financial hurdles amid the lockdown, most of the BPL clubs demanded to cancel the ongoing season. They released overseas players, coaching staffs and offered pay cuts to the local footballers and coaches.

Premier League, La Liga, Ligue 1, Serie A have been taking preparations to resume their respective seasons while Bundesliga have already restarted. But BFF wants to start a new season on September or October. Ahead of the new season, they want to sit down with players and clubs to talk about the contracts and areas.

“BFF could hold their decision until the situation became normal. But they took the decision promptly only due to the clubs because clubs don’t want to continue with the league anymore. We can start a new season after three to four months, but we can’t resume it, isn’t it a queer tale? Also, the clubs are now in financial crisis. But what will happen if the new season starts in September or October? Will they be able to overcome this situation by that time?” asked Chattogram Abahani Head Coach Maruful Haque.

“Most of the players have been facing financial crisis. They should raise their voices. But unfortunately, they aren’t united. They don’t even have any association. There is an association for professional footballers named ‘Professional Footballers Association’. Our booters are not the members of that association. I have been trying to make them members for last six to seven years. But they are reluctant,” said the prominent football coach of Bangladesh angryly.   

Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra Head Coach Saiful Bari Titu said that BFF should take some quick moves to solve the issue regarding contracts and wages.  

“We have to understand the situation. It is not right time to continue football. Now, BFF should take some quick moves to solve this issue. I heard that they are going to sit down with players after the Eid. It is good decision. They are the eligible mediators. Hopefully, they will make some prompt decision because it will demotivate our players, will have impact on their mental health and will reduce their confidence,” he said.

There are more than 250 active local referees including 15 female referees who officiate different domestic and international matches. A referee gets Tk 2800 per match, assistant referees get Tk 2500 while fourth official and match commissioner get Tk 2300 each for officiating in Dhaka-based games of professional leagues. The FIFA referees get USD 1000 each for per AFC match and USD 500 each for per FIFA match.   As players and coaches, country’s referees are also worried about their future as the league has been abandoned.

“We have more than 250 active referees including 15 female referees. There are some 35 FIFA eligible referees to officiate international tournament and top tier domestic leagues including BPL, BCL and women’s league. The decision has impacted our referees especially new FIFA referees like Joya Chakma. They can’t officiate international matches or professional leagues this year,” said former FIFA referee Azad Rahman.