Pressing Issues: CAF honchos should hang their heads in shame

2014-06-16 10:00

Do the Right Thing!

That’s the title of a 1989 drama by Spike Lee.

It flashed through my mind as I perused the response from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to the reports linking some top football administrators from the continent to the 2022 Qatar World Cup scandal.

CAF spokesperson Junior Binyam categorically told City Press last week that the issue was not up for discussion at the organisation’s congress on Monday as it was not “on the agenda”.

But lo and behold, a day after their congress, CAF posted a lengthy statement on their website,, which says it was discussed at length.

But while the statement is lengthy and quite strongly worded, it is nevertheless disappointing and inadequate.

Rather than issuing such a rubbish statement, CAF honchos should hang their heads in shame that their members can be accused of such a blatant dependence syndrome.

It is shameful and embarrassing to find that top African personalities such as Liberian George Weah – a former world footballer of the year – received $50?000 (R534?000) for “school fees” from Mohamed bin Hammam.

The same applies to Zambia’s great player, Kalusha Bwalya, now the president of his country’s football association, who allegedly asked Bin Hammam for “about $50?000 for my football association and my personal expenditure”.

And all he could say to us when approached last week was: “Those people got the wrong information but I don’t want to talk about it.”

Really? Shouldn’t he be giving us the correct information?

Instead of CAF accusing all media, “notably British” media, of “repeated, deliberately hateful, defamatory and degrading attacks on the image and the integrity of CAF, its president, its members, its member associations and the entire African continent”, they should institute a probe.

They should ask pertinent questions such as:

» Is it common for associations of soccer’s global governing body, Fifa, to receive two tranches of payments ($400?000 x 2) for the Goal Project two years in succession, as happened with Ivory Coast?

» Is it a coincidence that the president of the Ivory Coast Football Association, Jacques Anouma, is a voting member of the Fifa executive?

»?Did the “charitable” $22?000 deposited by Bin Hammam into the Ivory Coast association account reach the intended “victims of a stadium collapse during an international game”?

»?Why did Michael Dende of Sao Tome ask Bin Hammam to deposit the $232?000 to build football pitches in his country into his personal account?

Instead, the statement became a PR exercise to give CAF president Issa Hayatou and member associations a pat on the back for a job well done.

It concludes by saying the congress “declares, in unanimity of all delegates present, its total and unreserved support to all wrongfully incriminated Africans and to the president of CAF, Mr Issa Hayatou, whose transparent and distinguished leadership has brought about an envious transformation of African football”.

Envious transformation, my foot!

Who would envy a confederation whose president has been at the helm for 27 years?

It has 54 members but none of them have ever gone beyond the quarterfinal stage of a World Cup. Please!

And to add insult to injury, the CAF membership expressed “its gratitude to Fifa president, Mr Joseph S Blatter, for his continuous involvement in the development of football in Africa and his personal commitment to the fight against racism”.

This was after the 78-year-old responded to the Qatar report thus: “Once again there is a sort of storm against Fifa relating to the Qatar World Cup. Sadly, there’s a great deal of discrimination and racism and this hurts me.”

One has to agree with English Football Association chairman David Gill who put it succinctly: “The allegations being made are nothing to do with racism. They are allegations about corruption.”

As calls for Blatter to quit, as well as those for the 2022 World Cup bids to be rerun, reached a crescendo, the president of the Royal Dutch Football Association, Michael van Praag, summed it all up: “People link Fifa to corruption and bribery and all kinds of old boys’ networks.”

It is indeed time for Blatter’s beloved “football family” to do the right thing by observing the four fingers pointing back at them.

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