I didn’t squander basketball funds, says Albino

I didn’t squander basketball funds, says Albino
South Sudan national minister of youth and sports Dr. Albino Bol Dhieu, speaking to the media on Monday in Juba. [Alex Bullen, City Review]

The national Minister of Youth and Sports Dr Albino Bol dismissed the allegations that he had misappropriated the funds meant for the basketball team in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

Addressing the media yesterday upon arrival from Manila, Philippines, Albino said individuals who travelled to support the team were sponsored by their respective institutions because the budget allocated was not enough for the delegation. They included national assembly members and other leaders from the government.

“We have only received a quarter of that budget; so, it was not enough for all the delegation to go,” said Albino, as he responded to a social media allegation that the $4 million meant to fund the basketball team had gone missing.

He added, “I have seen some people protesting here in the airport claiming that we have taken their money, nothing like that.”

“What happened is that there was confusion between my office and the office of the Vice President (youth, gender and sports cluster), there is Ultra’s group for basketball and Ultra’s group for football,” he explained.

According to Albino, the ministry took the Ultra’s group for the basketball to Manila.

“I want to assure the young people that the money that was released was sent directly through the office of the president to the national team account,” he added.

“It was not even through the minister’s account so this is to clear all the rumors that have been happening through social media,” Dr. Albino said.

Allegations emerge

The allegations on social media were that Albino collected hundreds of passports but did not transport the fans chosen to accompany the Bright Stars.

Bader Abdallah, President of the South Sudan Bright Stars, Ultras Kawaja, said he and his group members were left behind after making all preparations despite being invited.

In May 2023, the council of ministers approved $6.5 million (approximately a billion) to facilitate the participation of the national basketball team in the FIBA World Cup 2023.

The approval was made after the minister of youth and sports requested for a budget from the government to fund the national basketball team’s participation in the tournament.

According to Michael Makuei, the information minister, the money approved was to support the team, fourth-floor dancers, and basketball fans.

“This money will be used for the facilitation of the team’s travel to the United Arab Emirates and Australia for the final training of the team before the final World Cup, which will be in Asia,” he told the press after the council minister meeting in May.

“We’ll take the fourth-floor dancers and fans to cheer on our team; all of these people will need to be transported,” he explained.