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AFCON 2019: Why Uganda Cranes Players Staged sit-down Strike

The Uganda Cranes are the second team together with Zimbabwe to go on a sit-down strike and miss training over alleged unpaid allowances at the on-going 2019 Total Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt.

The Nigerian team players also boycotted one of the mandatory press conferences over unpaid winning bonuses.

Ahead of a crucial game against Africa’s best-ranked team Senegal on July 5th in the round of 16, the Cranes failed to show up at the Arab Contractors Stadium on Tuesday evening.

“Yes, we decided as a group to keep out of training to send a big message across so that the leaders can pay us,” one of the senior players who did not want his name revealed told URN last night.

According to the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) communications manager, Ahmed Hussein, the members of the contingent have all been paid what they are meant to get till the end of June.

Fufa has made it clear that each player has so far been paid a total of US$14,600 (Shs54 million) by July 2nd. The team reportedly received US$4000 (Shs14.8 million) for their win against DR Congo and US$2000 (Shs7.4 million) for the draw against Zimbabwe. The players also received US$5100 (Shs18.9 million) each for 34 days of camping till June 30th at a rate of US$150 (Shs556,000) per day, US$420 (Shs1.5 million) for the 14 days of camping in Uganda, together with US$300 (Shs1.1 million) for the international friendly against Ivory Coast played in Abu Dhabi.

However, the insider in the team told URN that the players want the FA to pay an outstanding debt of US10,000 (Shs37 million) that they promised for qualification for 2019 AFCON. The players urge that the 2 billion shillings given by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni for the team to share after qualification are different from the one promised earlier by FUFA.

“It is true FUFA promised them US$10,000 each for qualification. But we engaged the government through President Museveni and money was released which we used to pay them,” said another FUFA official.

However, another player told URN on Wednesday morning that they have been asked to return to training and reminded of the code of conduct document that each of them signed. It remains to be seen if the players will accept training later on Wednesday evening or continue with the sit-down strike. 

At the on-going tournament three teams Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Ghana all have a winning bonus of US$10,000 (Shs37 million) per game. 

Besides Uganda and Senegal, the other teams that have made it to the round of 16 include Egypt, South Africa, Madagascar, DR Congo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Algeria, Guinea, Morocco, Benin, Mali, Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Tunisia.