On Friday, the 209-member world football family will meet to elect a new Fifa president following the departure of Joseph Sepp Blatter after 17 years at the helm of world football.
Instead of letting national associations make their own choices, the expanded 17-member Confederation of African Football (CAF) executive has once again decided to impose on African states who they should vote for — and this time it’s the Asian football president, Sheikh Salman.
It is unfortunate that since 1988 in Morocco when Cameroonian Isa Hayatou acceded to power as CAF president, Africa has been armtwisted to elect Fifa executive members that fulfil the wishes of influential CAF executive members and Hayatou.
The question is : Why does CAF insist on imposing candidates on national associations. Why is it that 58 years after CAF was formed, Africa continues to accept leaders imposed on them?
When will the continent finally rid itself of these shackles? These national associations are led by energetic administrators of intellect and talent who are capable of making their own choices.
Liberian football association president Musa Bility was so incensed by the CAF decision that he came out in the open suggesting that it was also time to show Hayatou the exit. Bility has made it clear that they are voting for Prince Bin Ali Hussein of Jordan.
With 54 votes, Africa has the highest number of voters within the Fifa assembly and with allegations of corruption flying around in the Fifa corridors, one is forced to ask what exactly those leading CAF are getting for imposing candidates on their own members.
In 2000, Zimbabwe was punished for allegedly voting for Sepp Blatter against a CAF resolution to back then European football chief Lennart Johannson. CAF withdrew the country’s rights to host the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations under unclear circumstances.
The truth is that African national football associations cannot continue to be held at ransom by those leading them. Now is the time to say NO to the puppet-masters and for African football associations to seek their own football path, without anybody pulling the strings.
There are other choices that are not CAF’s preferred candidates that can be voted for. There is Prince Bin Ali Hussein of Jordan who is Fifa vice-president, Jerome Champagne, a former Fifa executive member between 1999 and 2000, Uefa secretary general Gianni Infrantino and South Africa’s Tokyo Sexwale, who unfortunately was rejected by CAF.
Zifa president Phillip Chiyangwa will carry Zimbabwe’s vote. He should cast his vote freely and on the basis of programmes presented by the candidates. The candidate of Chiyangwa’s choice should be the one who presents a programme that suits the progress of the Zimbabwean game.
The winds of change are blowing across the width and breadth of world football, and Africa should not be left behind. For many people in the game, a clean sweep of the current leadership of the African game is long overdue.
There is a new crop of emerging African football association leaders whose trademark is their relative youthfulness, energy and vision. Surely, after 28 years in office, it is now time to say farewell to Hayatou.
Moving in the right direction
The announcement by the chairman of Zimbabwe Cricket, Tawengwa Mukuhlani, that all members of the Zimbabwe Under-19 team will be given contracts by the cricket controlling body, is clearly a move in the right direction. This will ensure that these talented youngsters are not lost to Zimbabwe — as happened with other cricketers of note who have gone on to play in foreign lands.
This will also allow the senior national team coaches the chance to monitor the young players’ progress in a gradual process, in order to replace the underperforming players in the Chevrons team.
This could also see an improvement in the performance of the Chevrons as they will play in the knowledge that there are other players waiting on the wings to take their places.
There are others who have suggested that the Under-19 team should be kept together as it is — along with their coaches — and be transformed into the Zimbabwe A side with the view of a wholesale change in the Chevrons.
The decision lies with Zimbabwe Cricket, but hats off to them for showing a path which others should follow. A successful future is built from the bottom to the top, not from the top to the bottom.
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