Of CECAFA 2012 , Issa Hayatou’s tightening CAF Presidency fist

Last Saturday opened this year’s account for the continent’s oldest footballing tournament. The opening game as aptly the one of hosts Uganda and their major protagonists Kenya. In what has become one of the most fearsome derbies in the region, the Cranes pipped the Stars by 1-0.


CECAFA wobbles along
This year though the tournament has managed to bring together almost all the Eastern and Central African teams with Malawi coming in as guests from the Southern part of Africa. After having had brief tiffs between the CECAFA Secretary-General Nicholas Musonye and the FKF Chair Sam Nyamweya, the tournament has gotten on without any hitches and with the added boon of being screened live on SuperSport (EA-9). Away from the pitch though, there was the annual congress held before the tournament as is tradition with most major football tournaments across the world. In that meeting, CECAFA chiefs (among them Kenya’s FKF) decided to back Issa Hayatou to another term at the helm of CAF – he’s been at it for 25 years and counting.
And as if not caring for the votes from this part of the world, Issa Hayatou admonished the CECAFA countries for not doing enough to host continental tournaments. None of the countries have ever hosted the Africa Cup of Nations ( the closest they ever came was when Kenya bid for the tourney in 1996 but bulked out before any ball was kicked). This is also seen in the fact that only Ethiopia is playing the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations after the rest missed qualification. Rwanda is the only country which came under positive light for having hosted the CAF under-17, under-20 and also bidding to host the CECAFA Senior Cup in 2015.
This says a lot about the countries from the region and the state of football therein. Compared to the Western, Northern and Southern countries, football is still under-performed in this region. From the lack of continental champions ( Uganda came closest, being losing finalists in 1978 to Ghana) and also for club championships where teams are routinely eliminated even before getting to the group stages ( the only club to have won continental honours is Kenya’s Gor Mahia before the Champions League format was introduced).
This may have informed the rather loud comment from Kenya’s new head coach Henri Michel of CECAFA tournament being ‘useless’ ( or maybe the words were lost in translation)…
Nonetheless as the tournament continues, football chiefs in the region need to find a way of raising the standards of the game. Both government and private enterprises will play a greater role in the realisation of this. But we should also call to account respective football associations/federations which need to get their act together and move from mere lip service and dependency on FIFA grants and blueprints and have an agenda for their own leagues.
Nicholas Musonye as Sec-General has managed to keep the various tournaments going and even attracting major sponsors every so often. But one man cannot manage a game of such magnitude. He would also need to build greater consensus across the federations. Also pushing CECAFA’s agenda across the continent and challenging to continental honours will be another role to be seen.

All the same, root for your favourite team as we here at SportsKenya might be doing for the Harambee Stars however rickety their form is!

Quick Facts:

  • CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup came up in 1973 though its forerunner is the Gossage Cup started in 1926 between Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zanzibar.
  • The Gossage Cup was sponsored by soap manufacturers’ of the same name under the Lever brothers- which is now Unilever plc (British-owned)
  • The 2012 CECAFA tournament is sponsored by Tusker under East Africa Breweries Limited ( Diageo-owned company).
  • Uganda has won the tournament 12 times since 1973, Kenya 5 times (including a 3-peat in 1981,82,83), Ethiopia 4 times (last time being 2005)
  • Only Ethiopia from the CECAFA region is playing in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.
Issa Hayatou’s Iron Grip

Learn from the Best – Blatter (l) and Hayatou (r)
Image courtesy of www.caughtoffside.com   

As mentioned above, CAF President Issa Hayatou is in Kampala, Uganda to oversee the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup which ends in little over one week. It may seem that the respective football associations and federations have not made much of an impression to the longest serving football honcho on the continent.
Even then, our football officials have decided to back him up once again when the CAF elections come up in January 2013 in South Africa just before the kick-off of the continent’s biggest football showpiece.
And in what seems to be an effort to maintain the status quo, CAF underlings in September amended the constitution to bar any major competition to this Cameroonian-born sports official. The amend effectively barred anyone who is not serving at the CAF Executive Committtee from running for any top job.
This effectively ended any chance of highly favoured Danny Joordan from South Africa ( who led a successful bid and hosting of the 2012 World Cup). It also knocked out Jacques Anouma- Ivory Coast born was also going to throw his hat into the ring for the top job. Read this interesting post here about African football officials oblivious to changes around them.

Before Mohammed bin Hammamm in 2011, the only other person to have opposed Sepp Blatter’s FIFA reign was Issa Hayatou in 2002. But unlike bin Hammamm who was hounded out even before he got his name on the ballot, Hayatou did manage to save face and ended up mending fences albeit conveniently with Sepp. He currently sits as one of FIFA’s Vice-President. He also managed to become a member of the IOC representing FIFA though was shrouded in controversy late last year on corruption claims which were later dropped, but the damage had already been done. FIFA and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) had to drop his involvement in the Games football discipline. But this has not stopped him learning from Blatter, managing to run CAF’s show almost as a one-man show. It is also rumoured that he is not in the best shape and suffers from some undisclosed condition. Wonder what new ideas he would have that have not been seen in the last 25 years of his reign.

On Monday 26th November, Liberian football authorities challenged CAF’s amendment in the Court of Appeal for Sport (CAS) hoping to reverse the changes made in September. This is a far shot but still one of the many measures football authorities will need to come up to see a fair election. And while it remains to be seen if there will be any other worthy challengers to Hayatou’s long reign, it will be important that the game remains the primary goal for seeking to head the organisation. But with the largess and political connections that comes with these positions, it will continue attracting more vested parties than those out to help the growth and sustenance of the football game.

For more on Issa Hayatou, check his link here and also read this piece from World Soccer’s Mark Gleeson.

Sepp Blatter & FIFA retinue to visit Kenya ( East Africa) soon

With Federation of Kenya Football having conducted a relatively smooth election to merge Football Kenya with Kenya Football Federation, FIFA powers that-be had to acknowledge the legitimacy of the new office holders. The new chair, mercurial Sam Nyamweya  managed to hold audience with FIFA President Sepp Blatter in November 2011 a few days after the elections and the latter promised to make good the new office’s endorsement by paying a visit to the region with Kenya being part of the circuit visit.

FIFA Pres. Sepp Blatterimage courtesy of http://dadoubd.canalblog.com/

Work on another of the sites for the FIFA Goal Projects is said to start soon in the lakeside town of Kisumu. So while FIFA prepares another whistle-stop trip around Eastern Africa, we thought of a few things they ought to consider as they throw in some sun-bathing lotion, safari/khaki trousers and designer sun-glasses;
1. FIFA Goal Project in Kenya – though this has been touted as one of the biggest FIFA projects to get football from lower levels and under-priviledged areas, in Kenya we are well below expectations. Initial work at the Kasarani Sports Centre stalled and though there is commitment from the Government to continue with the project, FKF officials have not put any structures in place to ensure the same doesn’t happen in future.

2. Non-partisanship  – in the past, FIFA honchos have been seen to take sides when any sort of crisis plagues the local game. This has seen the local football scene deteriorate considerably over the past 15 or so years. It doesn’t help that your organisation broods no interference or nonsense from national Governments but that doesn’t mean that the game should be sacrificed for a few ego bruises.

3. Women’s Football – while the Kenyan male counter-part has had a warm-cold representation at international circles, the women’s game seems to be spurred by some form of inspiration and is fast taking root among Kenyan urban poor. Does your office have any developmental agenda for their game? They just might be what Kenyan football needs to spur it to international fame.

Image courtesy of www.picturesdeposit.com

4. Transparency – many analysts have talked and commented about the secrecy that shrouds your books and other financial statements – the jury’s still out there on how transparent the overall body is run. This should not be the case for national federations. We’ve seen too many shady merchants running the game and getting away with it. Don’t fault them, they only take orders from above …

5. Africa’s agenda – beyond the voting rights that African states have enjoyed, and yes we (South Africa) did host a World Cup. What’s your agenda for African football going forward? Your on-and-off tiffs with CAF top-dog Issa Hayatou have been well documented. Well ours is to hoping that in your last few years of the final term, the game of football can be of great pride to the African citizenry in the near future. Continental sports media house SuperSport has taken the initiative to develop local leagues across many African states, maybe you can take a cue from them. The resources that your organisation enjoys are enourmous and a little bite on the cherry won’t hurt will it?

Thus said, we hope that your visit will be worth the while and as we say in Swahili… Karibu Sana!   

Football : KFF & FIFA-Let’s not have the charade

The world of football was treated to some very interesting times in May and the run-up to the 1st June at the behemoth that is FIFA. Sepp Blatter fighting ( well not that the only other candidate Mohammed bin Hammamm) for the top post for a fourth consecutive term really opened up a can of worms and somehow wiggle himself free to emerge as the only candidate and win this post till 2015.
Well while he may want to wish away the whole charade whether the claims against Jack Warner and Mohammed bin Hammamm are proved or not; there is going to be lots of ín-house cleaning and PR as well as trying to keep the two gagged for the next couple of years if FIFA is to hold its own. Some disquiet has come from some of the major sponsors but nothing serious yet ( some had argued that they would withdraw their 2014,2018 and 2022 tournaments…)
Back to Kenyan football, we had our joke of a football official from FKL representing Kenya’s vote. Hoping they do not want to replicate a similar situation, it is about time the Independent Elections Board announced a date for the elections which are now becoming quite an obstacle for the local scene.
The whole scenario is not helped by the fact that the IEB seems to be reading from FIFA’s script and had to wait for the elections of the highest office to end before making any move. For the interests of our country and for us to save face, please do not let the fiefdoms from FIFA trickle down to our levels. Mr. Paul Otuoma kindly hold forte for the people of Kenya and if we shall be suspended for your cobbled coalition Government coming to our rescue then let be it.
IEB announce a date and save us all this hassle, let the best man win!

Kenya Football – Independent Election Board…Some Semblance of Order Please!

Kenyan football is currently enjoying mixed fortunes at local and international outings. With the local Premier League slowly building , Kenya’s club representatives Sofapaka hoping to move to next stage of club continental challenge and the national team finally securing a win at home; the time is ripe for a new team to ensure these success stories are sustained.

Own Goal ? – Image courtesy of thevillagesblog

The body entrusted with running the ‘quagmire’ that is Kenyan football elections the Independent Election Board (IEB), has been placing undue pressure on the footballing fraternity and Kenyans too. With clauses which had raised eyebrows ( the most contentious one being on age), the most recent drawback is lack of a date confirming the elections. This is even after release of KShs.24 million for the process to go on. 
Some argue that the IEB officials are hoping to hold the elections after FIFA’s own scheduled for 1st of June at Zurich, Switzerland. This is pitting current chair Joseph Blatter against a rather feisty Mohammed bin Hammam.
Whatever outcome this has it will definitely going to influence the local game. If Blatter serves his last term, he would love to leave a worthy legacy especially in developing markets ( countries if it were). bin Hammam on the other side if elected is likely to galvanise an Asian, Eastern Europe, American and of course African vote which would ensure a second or third term.
As for the Kenyan case, the IEB should announce a date to give all interested ample time to prepare and work their campaigns for the betterment of the game. Up until then, we shall hold them to account for any failure or hitches that may arise from the prolonged process.

2022 World Cup Sneak Preview ? 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar

Rated as one of the most nondescript tournaments in the world of football ( no offence to our Asian brothers), the current Asian Cup might serve another interesting perspective in the games future. After Qatar’s winning bid for the FIFA World Cup 2022, FIFA’s Sepp Blatter made the suggestion that the tournament might be moved to the early months of 2022 rather than the traditional mid-year calendar that is FIFA’s money-spinning events.

Qatari Football fans – courtesy of www.attackingsoccer.com 

FIFA’s ( or is it Blatter’s) rationale of the 2022 winning bid is that the game needs to expand in Asia and attract wider audiences and finances than is currently the case. Well, the Asian Cup is proving to be a great guinea pig from the stadium and transport infrastructure to the fans attending the games and maybe the weather conditions ( that is if Blatter has his way).
It is admirable what the Qatari authorities have been doing for sport, indeed investing heavily and even making future plans for the related services such as housing of hosting a major tournament. The change though would mean that FIFA and its affiliates would have to radically change the footballing calendar for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons which of course is no easy task. There might be related costs and maybe loss of revenue. All the same, if countries (especially African countries who have a penchant of not planning in time) would need to have an idea of what it may feel like in 11 years, better catch the next flight to the Gulf emirate of Qatar!