CAF in Need of a Storm

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar April 30, 2015 21:37

CAF in Need of a Storm

by Segun Odegbami © Segun Odgbami (April 26th 2015)

Segun at Wembley
Wind of Change
Buhari is the last name of Nigeria’s new President-elect. Any one living in Nigeria would not have been immune from the impact of the Buhari political storm that swept across the country in the past three weeks. Even for those of us in sports that usually claim to be apolitical, we either rode on the storm or were swept away by its gale.
The past three weeks have been a major turning point in the political evolution of Nigeria, and its football, hopefully, along with it. So, it is n the spirit of that mantra that I took a glimpse of the CAF General Assembly that took place some two or so weeks ago in Morocco.
Lack of Reaction

Blatter and Hayatou 6

I am surprised that there has not been a continent-wide furore over what transpired at the assembly – the return of some of the former executive members from suspension: the publicly declared block support for Sepp Blatter’s re-election by Issa Hayatou, the CAF President and the amendment of an article in the Statutes of CAF that now opens up the way for Issa Hayatou to once again seek re-election after spending 27 years at the head of the organisation.
I have been waiting for some reaction from stakeholders across the continent but the silence has been deafening. I sought the opinion of a respected colleague in the study of African football Osazu Obayuwana. He is a former BBC reporter, respected member of the FIFA Ad-hoc Committee on Racism, erudite lawyer and sports-writer.
He bemoaned virtually every aspect of the assembly’s actions and decisions. So, I was not alone in thinking that something serious is wrong with African football administration. Several months ago I had warned Africa about what was to happen at the Assembly. It came to pass.
Opening the Door

Issa Hayatou 1

The assembly amended an article in the statutes of the confederation that removed the 70-years age limit for those who want to contest for the presidency of CAF. Meanwhile, the out-going President, Issa Hayatou, at 69 years of age, has only one more year before he attains the retirement age of 70 prescribed in the previous statutes.
The amendment, done and dusted, makes him now eligible to contest again at the next Congress in 2017, setting the stage for his re-election after having been President since 1988. Yes, Issa Hayatou has been President for 27 years. Now weak, ailing, and physically needing support of aides at functions, he supervised the change in the statutes.

Issa Hayatou 3
The tragedy is that none of the Federation presidents across the length and breadth of the continent had the guts or audacity to raise an issue about the motivation and rationale behind the amendment. Yet these are the same people who in private would mourn the moan the stagnation in the continent’s football administration. They not only endorsed the amendment, they also endorsed Sepp Blatter’s bid to seek re-election as president of FIFA next month.

Sepp Blatter 4
If Blatter at almost 79 – 10 years older than Hayatou – and a part of FIFA for 40 years, which is 13 years longer than Hayatou, even though he has only been President for 15, can change his mind after announcing to the world that he would not seek re-election again in 2011, why should Issa not aim higher and longer?
Ydnektchew Tessema, the former President of CAF died as President at age 66 after serving for 16 years. Issa succeeded him one year later. Should Issa get away with the present game, I will not be surprised if the statutes soon permit the possibility of a Presidency for life in CAF. Beyond that how could all 54 African football federations have endorsed Sepp Blatter without even a single dissenting voice?

Blatter and Hayatou 5
Issa is a good man. I know him personally. He has done marvellous things for African football. But he is now holding African football by the jugular. He may not know it, but that’s exactly what the situation is.
For allowing the constitution to be changed to help his re-election bid, Issa played the usual ‘game’ of compensating those that helped him achieve his ambition. He ensured that all members of the Executive Committee returned to the Committee unopposed. CAF, like FIFA (and indeed like most of the continental Confederations) is looking more and more like a secret cult.
The Spectre of Ostracism
Any person that raises the spectre of challenging the leadership is ostracised and either swept away or sidelined from the system. That is why a person like Danny Jordaan of South Africa, with his solid administrative credentials, unique experiences and intellectualism, has found himself completely outside the affairs of continental African football, despite being the President of the South African FA. He challenged Issa some years ago.

Blatter and Hayatou 2
Several others including Tanzania’s Leodegar Tenga, Tunisia’s Slim Aloulou and Côte d’Ivoire’s Jacques Anouma, have all tasted the ‘poison’ of going against Issa. They are all now very ‘humble’, well Aloulou was until his recent death in January. Earlier this month CAF honoured the deceased Tunisian administrator.
A New Dawn?
National federations take a cue from the practice in CAF and FIFA and attempt to also perpetuate themselves in office. Nigeria has been a perfect example where every 4 years a brutal struggle takes place for the federation’s presidency.
The system that makes presidents so powerful as to make replacing them impossible is surely not right. Can’t the rest of the world see it? I am so tired of the shenanigans in CAF that I cannot help but yearn for a ‘Buharic’ storm to blow it all away!

African Sports

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar April 30, 2015 21:37
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