As the fraternity’s mandarins descend upon the picturesque Island of Mauritius, for the supposedly decisive FIFA congress, where ‘reform’ and ‘improving the quality of governance’ are the catch-phrases of choice, it is poignant to remember – for those who are conveniently beginning to forget – that the scandal over the award of World Cup hosting rights, for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, played a key role in igniting the ‘change’ process in the first place.
Cameroon certainly broke new frontiers, as the first African side, in 1990, to reach the World Cup quarter-finals – a barrier that no other team has gone past – as well as making the most appearances by the continent (six) at the finals tournament.
But the Indomitable Lions are a shadow of their moniker at the moment.
With the failure of the four-time African champions to qualify for the last two Cup of Nations in succession,
I have wondered, since March, after Issa Hayatou secured an unprecedented seventh term as Confederation of African Football (CAF) president in Morocco – with the ‘luxury’ of having no opponent to challenge him – when retribution will be visited upon those who challenged the controversial changes to the election rules, which made the Cameroonian’s continued stay in power a mere formality.
CAF’s disciplinary committee eloquently answered my nagging question, by handing a six-month ban and a $10,000 fine to Musa Bility,
I had initially planned to do a piece on the parlous state of Cameroonian football, after the humiliating failure of the not-so-Indomitable Lions, four-time champions of the continent, to qualify for the last two Africa Cup of Nations tournaments.
But, when a nosey-parker journalist – me, in this case – ends up in the news, rather than being in the preferred position of reporting it, one is left with no choice than to make the proverbial lemonade out of lemons.
After watching this pint-sized Uruguayan, on a bitterly cold winter’s night, at Johannesburg’s Soccer City, blatantly cheat his way to the 2010 World Cup semi-final, in front of nearly 90,000 witnesses, as well as have the temerity to subsequently gloat about his act of theft, I have found it very hard to have any regard for Luis Suarez.
And so do many people around the African continent, especially folks that come from Ghana.
As just one of two men in the 56-year history of the Africa Cup of Nations to win the trophy as a player and a manager – the late Egyptian legend Mahmoud El-Gohary being the other – you would assume Nigeria’s Stephen Keshi has earned some well-deserved job security.
But, as mind-boggling as it may sound, the man who managed the Super Eagles to the trophy in Johannesburg might be forced, by a series of bizarre circumstances,
Two years ago, whilst at the Championship of African Nations (CHAN) tournament in Khartoum, Sudan, I bumped into a FIFA official, often tasked with the duty of firefighting governance problems in various national associations across the world.
When we sat down, for a frank conversation about the challenges of improving football administration in Africa, I made it clear that better methods need to be devised by FIFA, in order to ensure that good governance is prevalent amongst the continent’s national associations.
Anyone seeking revolutionary change to the way in which FIFA does its business would certainly be underwhelmed with the changes to be proposed at next month’s congress in Mauritius.
As the stone-cold reality continues to sink in, that key suggestions of the IGC, led by Professor Mark Pieth, are not going to be implemented in the way originally proposed – a roadmap which well-meaning people within the fraternity keenly support – it is time to acknowledge that the harsh,
Whether the Gulf state of Qatar likes it or not, the recurring question of its suitability for hosting the 2022 World Cup is an issue that will just not disappear into the Arabian sunset.
That’s evident from the robust end to the press conference that followed FIFA’s executive committee meeting, in Zurich, last Thursday.
And it’s not just because of the serious allegations of corruption in the bidding process, resurrected by the recent “Qatargate”
During an exchange of correspondence, with a well-known and well-informed personality in refereeing, who’s handled top-level matches in Africa and around the world, including CAF Champions’ League, Cup of Nations and FIFA games, he made a telling statement that left me deeply concerned about how corruption and match-fixing has impacted on the continent.
“It seems an accepted norm in CAF (Confederation of African Football) that people know that bribery exists. But it appears that they cannot or do not want to deal with the matter,”
But for the incontrovertible geographical fact that Marrakech is in Morocco, I would have argued, to the death, that the just concluded Ordinary General Assembly of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), which I attended, took place in Kim Jong Il’s Pyongyang, North Korea.
Speech after speech at the Palais De Congres eulogised its president, Cameroonian Issa Hayatou, who enjoyed the anniversary of his 25th year in power on Sunday, by securing a record seventh four-year term in office.
Until Tuesday, Issa Hayatou, in his 25th year as president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), was, at least in theory, at risk of being at the end of an unfavourable decision, from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, which could have stood in the way of getting another four-year term in office, that would take the Cameroonian’s tenure to a near 30-year stretch.
No longer. With CAS ruling that the case brought by Ivorian Jacques Anouma,
“Champions are made from something they have deep inside them, a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. BUT THE WILL MUST BE STRONGER THAN THE SKILL” – Muhammad Ali.
African football, with its wealth and depth of talent, undoubtedly has the skill to conquer the game’s steep summit – the World Cup –
The elation of winning the Africa Cup of Nations, being at the top of the continental football summit, is what matters for the ordinary fan; National team triumph, and the accompanying two-year bragging rights, mean everything to them.
But as football federation officials from Nigeria, the newly crowned champions – or the 28 previous winners of the trophy – will bluntly tell you, that is all a nation gets.