It is no longer a surprise when match officials for particular games are changes a few days or hours to a game.
This is something that has become common across the world as it happens frequently.
In most cases, officials are changed due to health or fitness issues but that was not the case on Friday before two Uganda Premier League matches, Police FC vs Kyetume FC and BUL FC vs KCCA FC, at the MTN Omondi Stadium in Lugogo and Kyabazinga Stadium in Bugembe respectively
The SportsNation has exclusively learnt that the center referees for those particular games were changed after they tried to influence the result, for one of those two games.
The game in question is Police’s 3-1 victory over Kyetume.
What happened as told by a source
Joseph Ochom who had earlier been appointed by the FUFA referee’s committee to officiate the Lugogo game, attempted to solicit a bribe from a Kyetume FC official with the help of fellow referee Nasser Muhammad, so as to help the visitors win the game.
It should be noted that Nasser was also supposed to be on duty, on the same day, as he had earlier been appointed to take charge of BUL vs KCCA.
He (Nasser), who is understood to be closely related to the un-named Kyetume official, mistakenly made a phone call to the Chairman of the Uganda Football Referees Association-Ronnie Kalema, thinking he was talking to the Kyetume official.
In the call, he asked for Shs 1.5m on behalf of Ochom, so as to officiate in favour of Kyetume.
After learning that he was instead speaking to Kalema, Nasser ended the call immediately.
Kalema was forced to call for an emergency meeting after a COVID-19 test for Uganda Premier League referees at FUFA House in Mengo on Thursday where he narrated to the match officials, what had happened earlier between him and Nasser.
Kalema is understood to have warned the referees about the continuous attempts to influence results of matches and threatened to deal with the culprits.
As a consequence, both Nasser and Ochom were dropped from officiating their respective games and other referees were appointed.
Henry Byaruhanga was assigned the Lugogo game while George Olemu was appointed in Bugembe.
What next for both Nasser and Ochom
This is not the first time that a UPL referee is coming under the spot-light in a match fixing attempt.
Last season, Emma Kiwewa was banned for five years for attempting to influence the result of a match involving two Universities in the University Football League.
Just like Nasser, Kiwewa made a phone call to a University official, asking for money to help them win the game.
Match-fixing has been a big problem in Ugandan football for a while now and it looks like the vice is not ending anytime soon.
It is understood that FUFA is still looking into the matter of Nasser and Ochom and they are yet to come up with a solution and official statement regarding the matter.
Will the two be banned? Will FUFA take a more lenient approach and hand out just warnings to them?
All these questions will be answered in the near future, i guess!