News, Sports

Fans question basketball budget

By William Madouk

Basketball fans are accusing the minister of youth and sport of misusing the approved $6.5 million budget meant to facilitate the participation of the national basketball team in the FIBA World Cup 2023.

Amid controversy over the status of payments, a few basketball supporters said that among the 65 passports that were granted visas to travel to Manila, Philippines, and rally behind the Bright Stars team, no single individual travelled but only senior government officials.

This now puts the minister of youth and sport, including the South Sudan Basketball Federation, in a tight spot over the use of the allocated budget or the need to come out in the open to explain how the funds were spent.

A fan who spoke to the media said he spent $100 to renew his passport mainly for the Manila trip but later left behind. He alleged that there was a conspiracy over the funds meant to facilitate the team and fans.

“There is a serious plot in the recently approved budget. I know South Sudanese are tough, especially when dealing with issues of money. They can even forget their grandmothers,” the fan alleged.

“Those [who travelled to the Philippines] did not go there as fans and rally behind our team; they went there for shopping only. They are not sports lovers and have nothing to do with sports,” the source added.

In July, the Council of Ministers approved $6.5 million to cater for South Sudan’s senior men’s basketball team and fans to participate in the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

This came after the minister of youth and sport, Dr. Albino Bol, presented a report requesting a budget. According to him, that would cater to the basketball team, fans, and folklore dancers that would travel to Asia.

However, another disappointed fan claimed that all sports lovers were left stranded at Juba airport, adding that the notion from the responsible team was to have some money left for their pockets.

“The calculation they made is that if we take these people to the Philippines, then nothing will remain for tea—this is the whole idea,” he presumed.

Another source alleged that the chairperson of the South Sudan Basketball Federation, Luol Deng,’s refusal to take money earlier was a tactical delay to leave fans in a daydream that they would travel.

“They receive some and leave the balance behind so that it’s delayed, delayed, delayed, and then travel and money are released later and do away with it, like they are doing now,” a source said.

“Is it not possible to have 65 passports stamped with visas, and you don’t take even the media, including the chairperson of local basketball associations? he added.

He stressed that “you should have returned their passports and told them the trip was aborted, but you kept telling them there is hope and you will travel tomorrow, even though up until now some people did not get their passports.”

Another source who identified himself as Kawaja said, “Our passports were embossed with visas; we were to travel, but when we reached the airport, we were surprised that there were no tickets. We don’t know if other people have travelled using those tickets or not.”

According to him, the Bright Stars were beaten because fans were not present to boost their morale during the game.

“President Salva Kiir supported sport and fans to go and support our team in the World Cup, but unfortunately, those who travelled were not fans but honourable people who have nothing to do with sportsmanship,” he added.

The No. 1 Citizen Newspaper established that thousands of basketball fans watched the game live at the Nimra Talata basketball stadium, and others stood along the roads and roundabouts where outdoor advertising screens streamed the games live.

Among government officials spotted travelling to Manila, Philippines, are the Vice President for Gender and Youth Cluster, Mama Rebecca Nyandeng, and Mr. Kuol Manyang Juuk, the senior presidential advisor. It includes the national minister of youth and sport, Mr. Albino Bol Dhieu, among others.






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