George Mandela, the Ugandan footballer who was slapped with a lifetime ban from all football related activities by Fifa is still actively involved in the sport.
Mandela was handed lifetime ban for his involvement in manipulating the outcome of matches while playing for the Kenyan Premier League side Kakamega Homeboyz in 2019.
He, together with coach Paul Nkata, fled Kenya via Busia border after the club raised alarm over match fixing claims.
Once he safely arrived in Uganda, Mandela, who also played for Bandari and Tusker in Kenya under Nkata, quickly changed his name to Yakut Mandela.
He would then sign with Gaddafi FC, a Ugandan club that features in the Eastern Regional League.
With a new identity in the Fifa data base, the Ugandan, who was identified as the key leader of the ring that included three Kenyan players — Moses Chikati, Festus Okiring and Festo Omukoto — can still escape the ban unless Fifa follows up on the matter and they must prove that George is the same person as Yakut.
“We have made consultations with Fufa and Fifa on whether Yakut is affected, and we have been made aware that the ban was on George Mandela, so I think we are not affected either,” Gaddafi FC Chairman Richard Kimera said in an interview with Ugandan radio station OP FM.
The Kenyan trio were each handed a four-year ban while Nkata, whom Homeboyz owner Cleophas Shimanyula accused of allowing the vice to take place under his watch, escaped with no sanction.
And now Kimera is accusing Nkata of throwing Mandela and the other three under the bus, adding that the affected parties were never given a fair hearing.
“When Nkata went and met the investigators regarding the scandal, he advised the players that they shouldn’t bother to go and account for themselves, and I think this affected their case,” said Kimera.
It is on this ground that Gaddafi FC want Mandela to appeal the ban. “My understanding is that Nkata used the players as a scapegoat, and there was a deliberate mission to hang Mandela especially by the Homeboyz boss Shimanyula.
“The Kenyans were handed extended bans, but why did the Ugandan have such a hefty price to pay.
“When the decision was communicated, we got in touch with officials from Fifa’s disciplinary department as we aimed at appealing the ban on the player, we were then directed to the Appeals Committee.
“Appeals Committee Chief Pastrom Thomas from Sweden then forwarded us to Cameroonian Jean Louis Otongana, Alberto Smango from Mozambique, who handle appeals from Africa.”
But for Mandela to successfully lodge his complaint, he will have to apply through Kenyan Football Federation, even as he remains a wanted man in Kenya after Shimanyula reported him to the local authorities.
It also remains to be seen whether Mandela will continue to play for Gaddafi as he battles to have his appeal go through.
“This does not affect us (Gaddafi FC) in any way, because we were not served with any ban for our player so I do not see how that will affect us unless we are fully made aware of the situation,” a confident Kimera added.