By John De Mathews,
There is an eerie silence around Africa, and it is really worrying. It is the kind of quiet you get when watching a movie and the scene suddenly goes quiet for a few seconds….and you’re sat there waiting for something big to happen – a crash, a bang or something.
Imagine the excitement and delight you feel when the crash/bang or big event comes in and splits through the atmosphere, and you see a great scene develop.
But also imagine the sense of disappointment you feel, when the eerie silence continues for a while…..and at the end of it, nothing really happens.
This is the crossroads we find ourselves in, in the great continent of Africa. And by this, I am talking about African football.
Imagine the big people at CAF announcing that elections into the office of President of CAF will be next March 2021. A chance to put right many things that are wrong with African football as it is, and which this coronavirus pandemic has made worse, and which another four years of what has happened in the last four will completely bring Africa to its knees as far as football is concerned.
But since the announcement of the election process, that silence has been deafening.
And you wonder – did people not hear that the elections are coming up? Or is Africa really that impressed with what is happening that we are resigned to the fact that elections are not even needed – let the current leadership just carry on?
What do people see as wrong? That CAF is running low on reserves because it can not organise football at elite level successfully.
That CAF disengaged with one of the biggest providers of revenue through broadcast rights, without having a replacement in place? Hence robbing itself of hundreds of millions of dollars with which to run the game?
That the leadership is run based on personal choices and not merit.
That the leadership has been embroiled in more controversy, investigations and allegations on really dirty things in the last 4 years than the confederation had in the 60 years prior to it coming in put together.
That CAF is now not just the biggest confederation in world football, but also the biggest laughing stock in world football.
Yet we wonder – football buffs around Africa still do not see much wrong and think this lot should carry on?
Which lot actually rules African football? What is their pedigree? Why do they believe they are worthy of where they are? And why are they stubbornly holding on and manipulating everyone else into the illusion that they should not be challenged?
It is always said that football is one language – and it really does not matter where anyone comes from – as long as they speak the language of football, they can be a right fix.
Therefore, players from all over the world can get on the pitch, and regardless of their nationality, if they play good football, the sky can be their limit.
This is why a player like George Weah, an African great who is from Liberia, could have used his football prowess to rule the world in the 1990s. Liberia was not Brazil, not Argentina not Germany or any of such seemingly big nations. Yet, a lone player from that country was able to do what he did those years back.
Even when the someone like Joseph Blatter was to become President of FIFA, not many people would relate with Switzerland on the map of world football – it was, and still is a small country – yet he became FIFA boss and ruled for 18 years.
So there really should not have been a lot wrong with a person from Madagascar assuming leadership of African football. Especially if he started and continued as he promised that he would when he was gunning for the position.
But events have led us to find out that Africa, in trying to break away from a 29-year reign that was seen to be dominant and controlling (albeit in the midst of growth to the game and growth in the stature of the continent – as they were to belatedly find out), just landed itself in the arms of something that has made it worse, and every manner of bad has been associated with the continent.
Ahmad has been bad for Africa. His arrogant personality, his lack of charm and charisma, his personal pettiness and his inability to firmly deal with the peculiar problems of the continent’s football has exposed the continent to the scorn and jest of the outside world.
The unchecked recklessness with which monies have been spent and disbursed with no accountability still confounds the sensible mind. Even they called in an audit of CAF’s finances, yet when the audit report came out, they neither took heed of the recommendations nor did they find the courage to publish the report for the world to see.
And we ask – who are ‘they’?
When Ahmad first got elected, obviously having enjoyed the support and unflinching loyalty of many people from across the linguistic divide, he created a balanced support network around him, and for a very brief moment, everyone thought this was the start of good things.
He being French-speaking (or Francophone as we know them), he picked a Ghanaian (English speaking) and made him Vice President I. He then took a Francophone friend of his from DR Congo (and we will come to this one later), and made that one Vice President II.
Ahmad then started an unexplainable romance with Morocco the nation, and the President of the Morocco Football Federation – and the friendship grew so deep that he managed to coerce his Board to accede to his idea of creating the office of Vice President III and installed the Moroccan.
Stage one of the plan had now been achieved, and Ahmad started showing his true self as early as his 3rd month in office.
The second stage was then to solidify his position in CAF, cement the cronies around him and start to eject those who would stand in the way of his devious plans.
First victim was his First Vice President Kwesi Nyantakyi. Word has it that the Ghanaian, although stupid and naive in his dealings, was actually set up by the cabal controlled by Ahmad, and they saw to it that Nyantakyi fell badly, never to recover again as far as football was concerned. Obstacle One had gone.
Within months, a rather vocal and principled Liberian (Musa Bility), who was also in the forefront of the battle that brought Ahmad in, was the next neck on the chop-block. He was slapped with a massive FIFA ban for reasons that even up until now, are unclear to the outside world.
Having installed Nigerian football President – the flamboyant Pinnick Amaju – as replacement for Nyantakyi in the Vice President I position, we all thought the lingua-balance was still in place, although there was a huge tension as to what was coming.
And as expected, the gong fell, and Ahmad unceremoniously removed the Nigerian from office in July of 2019.
All completed, we now have the 3 dangerous men running the affairs of football in the largest and most diverse continent in the world, and all 3 do not make one man when we put their knowledge and experience together.
How they have managed to stay there till now remains a mystery.
And how no one has deemed it fit and proper to launch a challenge confounds many.
Ahmad was a small time Minister in his native Madagascar for some time, before he became boss of his island’s football federation. By nature, we have come to find that Malagasy people can be very unnecessarily arrogant and impolite – judge from the way the Malagasy government treated the whole issue of the herbs they think they developed for the cure of coronavirus!
But in football, he was a nobody, whose only attribute to his credit was his resolve to come forward and challenge the Hayatou dynasty when everyone else backed off.
He now has in his wake, a Vice President – Omari Constant – who is loud, unpolished and has given zero to the growth of his country in football.
Omari Constant was a late comer to the party. Although he was great friends with Ahmad, he broke ranks with him and declared his support for Hayatou and told Ahmad not to run against the old man. Everyone saw he was with Hayatou then on the eve of the election in 2017, he switched and joined Ahmad.
Constant is now the number 2 man in African football and he is calling the shots in a big way, especially as he seems to think he is the scheming, calculating and electioneering guru that can secure Ahmad’s future for another four years.
This man does not know football. He does not care about the game. There is nothing anywhere – in his country or out of it – that anyone can point to as he has done for football.
Standing next to Ahmad and Omari Constant is Mr Fouzi Lekjaa – the Vice President III who had the office created for him. What he did to warrant the new office – he secured a property for Ahmad in Morocco, word even has it that he got his boss a wife, a Moroccan wife, and gave freebies to CAF to offset their bills for hosting CAF events.
He is a chain-smoker who has little respect for Africa. He thinks every African can be bought, and sadly, most Africans are living up to what he thought of them.
This is one guy who head butted a football referee in the full glare of thousands of spectators because a football club from his country was having a bad day and he wanted the referee to show him some compassion!
He was found to have carried out this inappropriate act yet could not be punished because of who he is.
He arm-twisted the complaining and aggrieved referee into retracting his complaint, and Mr Fouzi walked free, free to take on the next ref that crossed his way and head butt that one too – or do worse maybe, seeing as he is above reprimand!
These are the three people running football in Africa. These are the three people upon which the livelihoods of the African youth rest, through football.
The strong arm twisting exercise has started again. They have sent letters to federation presidents Africa-wide asking them that they MUST send letters of endorsement to support the candidacy of Ahmad for a second term – to ‘continue the good work he is doing for Africa’.
And the football federation presidents are responding positively, doing as they are told – one by one!
And we ask again – we can understand some naivety among some, we can understand stupidity and greed in some….but can ALL African football federation presidents be stupid and naive – ALL AT THE SAME TIME?
How can they not see what is obvious? Did Africa have a broadcast rights partner pre-2017? Yes. Did Africa not generate revenue from competitions prior to 2017, which meant sustenance of the game and competitions in Africa? Yes.
Will African football go bankrupt if things continue as they are? Yes.
So how can they not see that there is a problem that can not be fixed by this trio and that we really need something different from what we are getting?
How can we drum it into the heads of these greedy muppets that African football does not belong to them individually, and that they must think for the collective good of the game and the generations of football players that depend on it?
This silence is deafening. We refuse to believe that Africa is full of sick, greedy, selfish and naive individuals running its football. It is too much of a coincidence that each of 54 African countries will contrive to elect a moron into the office of President of each Football Federation at the same time.
Now is the time to call them to task, and ask them to do something they do not seem to have done a lot of over the years – TO THINK…..FOR ONCE!
Disclaimer: The views are solely of the writer and not in any way the views of www.soka25east.com
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