Hooligans in Uganda now face up to 10 years in jail while sellers of counterfeit sports merchandise risk five years in prison if found guilty
Kenyan football authorities would perhaps need to go to Uganda for benchmarking to help root out hooliganism and the sale of sports merchandise after the country enacted a new law that will see culprits handed jail terms.
Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni signed the 2023 National Sports Act into law this week and among the measures therein is a move to curb hooliganism and chaos at sporting events.
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“A person shall not commit an act of violence or hooliganism at a sports event or sports competition organised by a national sports association or a national sports federation,” section 64 of the new laws states.
It describes a hooligan as a person with the intent to disrupt an event, one who destroys property, injures another, disturbs peace, or intimidates a match official or participant, among others.
The law has provided for a sentence of up to 10 years or a fine or a fine not exceeding Ush9.6 million (Ksh 376,795) or both.
“…is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding four hundred and eighty currency points or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding ten years, or both,” the law provides.
In addition, the culprits may be ordered to cover the costs of the losses and be banned from attending any sports events for a period not exceeding three years.
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It is not just hooliganism that the law seeks to uproot, sellers of fake merchandise also have their days numbered as the the penalties for dealing in counterfeit sports merchandise have been made significantly harsher.
Section 66 of the Sports Act states; “A person who imports, manufactures, distributes, produces, sells or offers for sale or trades or displays for sale any counterfeited Ugandan branded sports material, attire, apparel or other item…”
“… Without the authorisation of a national sports association or a national sports federation responsible for the sports discipline to which the Ugandan branded sports material, attire, apparel or other item relates, commits an offense.”
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“A person who commits an offence is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding one hundred and twenty currency points or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years, or both,” the law specifies.
“Court may, in addition to the penalty imposed, order the person to pay the affected national sports association or national sports federation, damages and compensation for the loss suffered by the national sports association or the national sports federation.”
Kenya is currently struggling to deal with the aforementioned issues with hooliganism a big problem in Kenyan football over the years.
Just this month, referees and a journalist were assaulted by Zoo FC fans at a playoff match in Nakuru while in the FKF Premier League last season, the clash between Kakamega Homeboyz and AFC Leopards was aborted after incidents of crowd trouble where a match official was injured.
There was also chaos at Muhoroni Stadium ahead of Wazito FC’s match with Gor Mahia, adding onto the ugly incidents that have bedeviled the game.
The sale of fake merchandise is also rampant in Kenya where unscrupulous traders take advantage of the loopholes in the law to sell cheap counterfeit products to unsuspecting fans while denying clubs the much-needed revenue.