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WE RR UNSTOPPABLE: 4 wins in 5 months- is Rajiv Ruparelia, rally’s new wunderkind?

In just 5 months and 5 races, 29-year old Rajiv Ruparelia has collared 4 wins and finished second in the fifth, literally showing dust to the more experienced big names. With the right machines, more wheel time, determination and with funding and age on his side, the writing is on the wall- a new star in rallying has been born!

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Yesterday, Saturday, October 26th, 2019 Rajiv Ruparelia (Team RR) won the fifth round of the autocross/Enduro championship held in Kalangala.  

Rajiv, navigated by  Enoch Olinga posted a combined total of 7.25 in the two heats, a good 10 seconds ahead of his closest rival- Andy Musoke (7:35) and 21 seconds ahead of Jonas Kansiime’s 7:46.

LEFT-RIGHT: Team RR fans- Dr Haruna Nyanzi Bujirita, Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia and businessman, Gideon Kirumira in Kalangala. Rajiv’s successive wins and daredevil antics on the track are fast winning him fans and additional adrenaline to perform!

Rajiv’s win exactly 5 months after he debuted into rallying with his purpose-built Polish-built Volkswagen Polo WRC Proto Car, on Sunday May 26th Enduro and 4×4 Challenge Championship hosted at Zion Estate, is more significant in more ways than one.

At the time, Rajiv, who had just returned from the Rallystar Academy in South Africa for specialised rally training by veteran Leone Botha clocked 10:44 minutes, just 40 seconds behind a more experienced Ronald Ssebuguzi, who came first with 10:04.  In the third place was Jonas Kansiime who clocked 10:54 minutes while, Edwin Kalule came 4th having clocked 11:04 minutes.

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN: Rajiv spins it for the fans, raising dust for the competition

But that was then- both Ronald Sebuguzi and Jonas Kansiime have since severally fallen victim to Rajiv’s daredevil driving skills- not once or twice- but thrice and in just 5 months. 

Fresh from the Zion Estate, Rajiv under his ‘RR – Double Trouble’ has gone on to win  both the  Federation of Motorsport Clubs of Uganda (FMU) Autocross championship in Kayunga in June and the Mosac Autocross Championship in Kapeeka, in August.  

On October 20th, Rajiv again won the third stage of Total-sponsored 2019 Kabalega Rally, National Rally Championship in Hoima, beating 39 competitors who took part in the race.

Some of the stars who fell under Rajiv’s accelerator peddle, include Yain Nassser, Arthur Blick, Ronald Sebuguzi and Duncan Mubiru.  

Rajiv Ruparelia checks in after the first heat. He won the first heat posting 4:56, a good 17 seconds ahead of Andy Musoke’s 5:13, which saw him still win, even when Andy Musoke, led him by 7 seconds in the second heat.

And it is not a year yet- all writings are on the wall; a new star has been born!

He is young enough- just 29 years. He has the best training money can buy on the continent and just the right machines.

Thanks to the wins and his spinning antics on the track, the fan base is growing too- with his father, billionaire, Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia being probably his number 2 fan, after his wife, Naiya.

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Rajiv Ruparelia wins the Club Rally Championship (CRC) after posting the fastest time

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Rajiv Ruparelia in action at the Kabalega rally in Hoima, the star racer won the third stage after posting the fastest time of 23:52.

Rally driver, Rajiv Ruparelia has won the third stage of Total Kabalega Hoima rally 2019 beating 39 competitors who took part in the race.

The TOTAL Kabalega rally kicked off with scrutineering at Total Main Street where cars are checked. Every driver was given TOTAL Quartz, the right lubricant for optimum performance in petrol engines.

With his co-driver Enock Olinga, Rajiv Ruparelia driving his usual machine UBF 801H Golf VW proto, he posted Rajiv Ruparelia 23:52, Yasin Nasser 23:59, Arthur Blick 24:11, Ronald Sebuguzi 24:22, Duncan Mubiru 24:31, Omar Mayanja 24:37, Abdul Kateete 25:17, Dr Ashiraf 26:43

Manvir Baryan won stage one after he posted 3:17, Jas Mangat 3:20, Hassan Alwi 3:22, Dharam Pandya3:22, Ronald Sebuguzi 3:28, Christakis Fitidis 3:32, Kepher Walube 3:40, Ponsiano Lwakataka 3:46

Road to victory: Rajiv negotiates a corner on the muddy rally track during the hotly contested race.

In the stage two Raul emerged the winner 17:26, Alwi 17:27, Duncan 17:31, Seb 17:41, Yassin 17:41, Arthur 17:42, Omar 18:19, Rajiv 23:53

In June, Rajiv, son of Sudhir Ruparelia of the Ruparelia Group, emerged overall winner of the Federation of Motorsport Clubs of Uganda (FMU) Autocross championship Kayunga. Rajiv joined motor sport in April 2019.

Rajiv Ruparelia steps out of his victorious race machine UBF 801H Golf VW proto, in which he posted the fastest time of 23:52

Ealier Ismail Waligo experienced engine failure in the super special stage, Ponsiano Lwakataka retired in CS2 due to Turbo issues, Rauf rammed into a Tree and bowed out of the race, Sadat Negomba lost control due to the slippery road and almost went swimming in the river and Ambrose Byona, Jas Mangat, Ronald Sebuguzi could not finish due to engine failure.

It was not the best day in office for two-wheel driver championship leader Samuel Watendwa when he rolled in the first stage of the rally.

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Rajiv Ruparelia, cautiously upbeat about this weekend’s Kabalega Rally

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Rajiv, who only started rallying in May 2019 and recently graduated to National Rally Championship level has so far put up good performance in all the races he has been in. He finished 2nd in the Enduro Autocross Championship 2019 in May and won both the Federation of Motorsport Clubs of Uganda (FMU) Autocross championship in Kayunga in June and the Mosac Autocross Championship in Kapeeka, in August.

Businessman and Managing Director of the Ruparelia Group, Rajiv Ruparelia (29) is upbeat about this weekend’s 2019 Kabalega Rally, which is the penultimate round of the National Rally Championship.

Speaking to CEO EA Sports on phone from Hoima on Wednesday evening, Rajiv who was in high spirits told this reporter that he was going to put up his best but at the same time be careful given the wet weather and the slippery roads.

“I have just arrived in Hoima- it has been raining and the roads are slippery; anyone who tries to get over-ambitious on this terrain will face it rough.” he said adding: “But both cars- are ready. We will take it easy, go for the finish and the car will do the rest.”

This will be Rajiv’s first time in Kabalega Rally.

Rajiv, who only started rallying in May 2019 and recently graduated to National Rally Championship level has so far put up good performance in all the races he has been in.

In his first outing, the 29-year old Rajiv in a Polish-built Volkswagen Polo WRC Proto Car   finished in an impressive second position, clocking a time of 10:44 in the Enduro Autocross Championship 2019 at Zion Estates in Ssisa- seconds behind experienced rally driver Ronald Ssebuguzi who won the race at a time 10:04 minutes.   

In June, he won the Federation of Motorsport Clubs of Uganda (FMU) Autocross championship in Kayunga- posting the fastest time of 05:18.5 ahead of the crew comprising of Ponsiano Rwakataka in second position, Ronald Ssebuguzi in the third position posted a time of 05:22.2.

In August, in a Mitsubishi Evo 9, he won the Mosac Autocross Championship in Kapeeka, Nakaseke District, posting 05:21.0 ahead of Jonas Kansiime (05:24.0) and Christakis Fitidis (05:27.0) 05:18.5.   

The Kabalega Rally is sponsored by Total Uganda, World Wide Movers, Uganda Communications Commission, Kontik Hotel and Hoima Municipal among others. The championship fight will kick off on Saturday morning with two stages before crews go into a Super Special Stage to cover a total competitive distance of 33.04kilometres on day one. Crews will eventually cover six stages on the final day to complete a total distance of 173.83 kilometres.

Yasin Nasser currently leads the championship with 355 points; 55 points more than second-placed Ronald Sebuguzi (300 points) while Christakis Fitidis is third on 285 points.   

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“Magogo’s plea bargain with FIFA is Invalid”says Muwema

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It is coming to 5 years since I took leave from football matters except for the occasional relapses brought back by the Uganda Cranes exploits on the continent. Recently however, my indifference was rudely awakened by the FIFA announcement that it had suspended Moses Magogo, the FUFA President, from all football activities for 2 months and that he was also fined 10,000 Swiss Francs. Magogo’s crime according to FIFA which happens to be the Investigator, Potential witness, Prosecutor and Judge in this case, is that he illegally sold World Cup tickets meant for Ugandans during the 2014 edition of the football spectacle which was held in Brazil.

I wonder why FIFA did not notify Ugandans about the ticket allocation before the World Cup event. Maybe, just maybe, the prodding eyes of the Ugandan beneficiaries would have ensured that these tickets or most of them were put to proper use.

I have been driven to comment on Magogo’s suspension by FIFA because of the urge to share what I have come to know about the laws governing football over the last 18 years. This urge far outweighed my need to remain silent. I will therefore proceed to weigh in, by interrogating the propriety of Magogo’s suspension, firstly in the context of the FIFA statutes or laws which were applied to the facts of the case and secondly but to a small extent, in the context of the Sovereign laws of Uganda, to which Magogo is subject as a citizen.

I take issue with the Adjudicatory chamber of the Independent Ethics Committee of FIFA which entered a plea bargain by mutual consent and handed Magogo a paltry fine of 10,000 Swiss Francs and a 2-month suspension. This sanction, for the kind of offence Magogo confessed to have committed, is not supported by the FIFA Code of Ethics (2019 Edition). I must hasten to add that the chambers mandate to act in this case was governed by this code in the main. The FIFA Disciplinary Code does not appear to come into specific play as it relates to infringements and sanctions on or around the field of play.

Whereas Article 67(1) of the FIFA Code of Ethics (supra) allows the Adjudicatory chamber to entertain and accept plea bargains from accused persons, Article 67(6) of the same code doesn’t permit the said chamber to enter into a plea agreement with Accused persons for sanctions related to bribery and corruption. The said Article 67(6) states that;
“No plea agreement shall be allowed concerning sanctions related to infringements of bribery and corruption, misappropriation and misuse of funds and manipulation of football matches or competitions” (emphasis supplied).

Article 27(1) of the FIFA Code of Ethics (supra) defines corruption to include among others, the offering, receiving, requesting or soliciting of any personal or undue pecuniary (financial) advantage or any other improper advantage to or from anyone within or outside FIFA.

By its own account of the facts, FIFA acknowledges that Magogo engaged in a corrupt act of the type defined by Article 27(1) when he diverted and illegally sold the tickets meant for Ugandans. It is clear on the face of it that he unlawfully gained a financial or improper advantage in perpetuating a transnational crime which is expressly forbidden and punished by the FIFA code and national laws world over. It was therefore irregular and fundamentally wrong for the Adjudication chamber to entertain a plea bargain from a person who was not eligible to enter it. In fact such a plea bargain and the underlying fine and suspension are not only null and void and liable to be revoked but they also put the bonafides and competence of the chamber in question. Moreover, this surreptitious decision by the chamber tends to take FIFA far away from its much-promised and publicized fight against corruption in football.

The Honorable thing for FIFA to do is to reopen the case and proceed with it to full trial with a public hearing of the complainants. It is against the established principles of a fair hearing for FIFA to conduct proceeding in secrecy and even hide the charges like it has done with Magogo. Under Article 42(2) FIFA Code of Ethics the Ethics Committee can rectify any obvious errors in its decision at any time. This means that the Adjudicatory chamber should not find any difficulty in revisiting its decision.

If the case is re-opened Magogo, should additionally be charged under Article 25 of the FIFA Code of Ethics for abuse of his position as President of FUFA in the sale of the tickets in issue. On conviction, this charge would carry a minimum fine of 10,000 Swiss Francs and a stiffer ban of at least 2 years from all local and international football activities. This, in my view, is a punishment which would be deterrent enough to punish the vice and dissuade the reoccurrence of such misconduct by present or future officials of FUFA.

However, if FIFA chooses to connive in breaching its own laws, then it will be open for Magogo to be charged with corruption, illicit enrichment and embezzlement under the Anti-Corruption Act 2009 of Uganda. FIFA officials should know that they can also be charged for conspiracy if it is shown that they actively aided and abetted the commission of the crime. Under S. 5 Penal Code Act Cap 120, Ugandan courts have jurisdiction to try offences committed partly within and outside Uganda by a Ugandan or non-Ugandan. In the recent past, the Swiss, French and American Courts have swung into action to apprehend and prosecute FIFA officials who have engaged in acts of corruption and financial impropriety.

I need to stop here and resume my leave from football matters in Uganda. But I counsel that FIFA cannot run away from its own shadow, it must, therefore, act in true and faithful alignment with itself. FIFA must lead the fight against corruption in football from the front, it has no place in the back seat.

By Fred Muwema
Managing Partner
M/s Muwema & Co. Advocates
15th October 2019

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