IT’S TIME FOR HAYATOU TO REORGANISE CAF
Like a boxer looking himself in the mirror in the morning after a fight, African football finds itself examining its face to see how badly it has been bruised. It does not need a genius to conclude that the punishment handed down to Amos Adamu by FIFA last Thursday has cast a dark shadow on the African game.
Nigeria's Adamu was banned from football activities for three years and Tahiti's Reynald Temarii for one year following claims in Britain's Sunday Times that these FIFA officials asked for money in exchange of votes in the contest to choose the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts.
Though Adamu insists that he is innocent of all the charges levelled against him and so, will appeal the judgment. Again, two current members of the Executive Committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) – Slim Aloulou of Tunisia and Mali's Amadu Diakite – were also caught on the wrong side of the FIFA Code of Ethics and banned.
Botswana's Ismail Bhamjee – another former CAF official, who was forced out of the FIFA board in 2006, joins them in the doghouse. For a continent still basking in the glory of hosting its first-ever World Cup, the suspensions of the four officials represent an almighty kick in the teeth. All of which means CAF President, Issa Hayatou, finds himself with the unenviable task of rebuilding his organisation's image and salvaging the continent's dignity.
This is an institution that splits opinion right down the middle, whether it is internally in Africa or around the world. Winning back the trust of fans is, therefore, an immensely difficult challenge; one that requires a radical transformation of CAF and the way it conducts business. Whether or not people agree with the methods employed by the Sunday Times, no doubts the damage inflicted by the newspaper's sting will take time to dissipate.
Of course, football can be a complicated business, but could this crisis also be a golden opportunity for CAF to reinvent itself at next year's general assembly in Khartoum? With Adamu, Diakite and Aloulou gone, and South Africa's Molefi Oliphant and General Seyi Memene of Togo due to retire, it means no less than nine Executive Committee posts will be up for grabs when CAF's 52 members meet in the Sudanese capital on February 23.
The Executive Committee seats of Hani Aboo Rida (Egypt), Almamy Kabele Camara (Guinea), Celestin Musabyimana (Rwanda) and Thierry Kamach (Central African Republic) will all be for contest in February, as their four-year terms would have expired. Eight seats represents 50 per cent of CAF's top decision-making body.
South Africa's World Cup chief, Danny Jordaan and Ghana's FA boss, Kwesi Nyatekyi, have already thrown their hats into the ring, with Jordaan also eyeing a seat on FIFA's Executive Committee. In football, as in all things, it pays to work out where the real power rests. After all, football boardrooms are places of intrigue and great drama. I understand that Jordaan has some very powerful backers within FIFA, which pretty much makes him a shoe-in for both the CAF and FIFA posts.
Whatever happens at next year's General Assembly – arguably the most important in many moons – one thing is crystal clear: African football cannot take anymore punches.