By Paul Nicholson
July 9 – Zelkifli Ngoufonja, who stood as a candidate for an African FIFA Council position in 2017, has written to CAF member association presidents on the eve of their Congress in Cairo this week urging them to do “the right thing” and not cede control of CAF and African football to FIFA.
FIFA has responded to a cry for help from CAF with the controversial decision to parachute in general secretary Fatma Samoura as an overlord to run the confederation, working with the currently failing leadership of CAF president Ahmad Ahmad and his administration.
Ngoufonja tells African presidents they should both refuse the move on their self-determination by FIFA and exercise their right to elect a new administration to rebuild African football.
In a letter that outlines the cycle of corruption and a number of the allegations of malfeasance against Ahmad, a close and key ally of FIFA president Gianni Infantino,, Ngoufonja (better known as Zul in football circles), says of the leadership: “It is a secret only to CAF itself that the organisation they lead has become shambolic and internal fractions, mismanagement, lack of professionalism, incompetence, and an autocratic leadership have weakened the organisation to the point of completely destroying its immune system.
“Today its vulnerability has opened doors to the intervention of big brother who instead of bringing the right medication to cure CAF from its disease is trying to fix a problem of its own making by providing a quick fix cover with the nomination of a “General Delegate” whose competence is highly questionable and will only be a light patch to cover the real problem. One can’t correct a wrong with another wrong.”
Zul says that in discussion with federation presidents there is a groundswell of opinion that is uncomfortable with and now prepared to act against what is seen by a growing number of national federations as a removal of Africa’s autonomy and its basic right to govern itself – warts and all.
It is a principle that has become a talking point globally amongst confederations (UEFA refused to support Infantino’s move on Africa) who believe that world governing body has significantly overstepped the mark and are concerned that FIFA’s quest for global takeover of the confederations could make them the next focus of Infantino’s empire building.
What is equally disturbing is what again looks like a deeply racist view from Switzerland that Africa is not and should not be allowed to manage itself, or is capable of fixing its own fences. For FIFA, African nations are pawns on the political chess board who can be bought and sold.
“Our ancestors, and passed leaders who fought hard for this continent to be seen as equal to others would be crying tears of anger and frustration if only they had some left in their graves. In Africa while some are fighting hard to prove the world that its people are as brilliant as those of the rest of the world, others in Africa are doing their best to prove them wrong – and unfortunately succeeding SHAME ON THEM,” says Zul.
“Our football is in desperate need of reforms, not the highly publicised PR events we have seen in the past couple of years, but a real self-examination that does not require the intervention of a “Special Surgeon” (FIFA General Secretary Fatma Samoura) whose abilities are doubted by her prime employer.”
The letter says asking for intervention “is a direct admission by the CAF leadership that they can’t handle the job anymore and they have finally given up.”
Zul asks the federation presidents to “accept the fact that those you entrusted with the management of your organisation have failed and they publicly acknowledged their failures by heading to ask for FIFA’s help…take your responsibilities in hand and acknowledge that FIFA isn’t superior to the general assembly of CAF and therefore can’t be taking decisions on your behalf.”
He is not demanding a split from FIFA but rather say they should accept FIFA’ s “urge to support CAF and ask FIFA not to be selective when it comes to handling corruption allegations.” FIFA’s discredited Ethics department has lost the respect and trust of its federations following a series of politically motivated investigations and suspensions. while other ethics breaches have been brushed under the carpet or pushed to the back of the investigation queue.
Zul concludes his letter telling presidents “the right thing is for you to take back your organisation” and find new leaders “who will manage your organisation with a clear mandate and organise new general elections within 4-6 months”.
He stresses that the leadership must ensure that elections are fair and not manipulated by vote buying and “envelopes” of cash as they been in the past, and that candidates have to present their “project for Africa”.
The CAF congress this week is a seminal moment for African football. “The continent is watching you, the world is watching you, do not betrays us this time, do not betray your kids at home this time. Stand up and do the RIGHT THING,” says Zul.
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