In DepthColumnsThe famine in African football


Posted on Wednesday, 30 January 2013 14:43

The famine in African football

William Manful

Watching the African Cup of Nations (Afcon) currently underway in South Africa, one is compelled to contemplate the never ending tenure of Issa Hayatou, the man indispensable to African Football.

As the cameras pan through colorful and jubilant spectators to catch the omnipresence of Hayatou, the former athlete who has now been deified by the World's number one sport looks more and more like the sole custodian of football administrative wisdom on the continent.

Issa Hayatou has been helming the Confederation of African Football (CAF) since Michel Platini the current boss of the Union of European Football Associations(UEFA) last captained his national side 'les bleus' of France.

The on-going tournament shows that African Football is indeed on the rise with record ticket sales and exciting matches but has African football really and truly caught up with the rest of the world?

The performance of African teams at the 2010 edition of the FIFA World Cup hosted by South Africa was unimpressive with hapless Ghana reaching the quarter finals as the only continental representative.

When Japan co-hosted with South Korea in 2002, the Korean national team went as far as the semis accounting for Italy and Spain in the process.

Too bad a similar feat was not replicated by the continent's star players at the last mundial. The 2006 version of the global showpiece hosted by the Germans carried a similar story. So has a revolution verily taken place in the African game?

What about thorny issues such as the continuous diabolical presence of racism in football? The matter is still clearly pertinent inducing players like Kevin Prince Boateng to abandon matches in progress.

What is CAF doing to advance the struggle against racism in football?

Could some measure of pressure be exerted upon FIFA and UEFA in particular to ensure that the issue receives the attention that it deserves?

Another interesting polemic that is failing to generate adequate interest within the corridors of CAF is how the game of football could be used to mitigate the plight of countless and faceless street kids roaming the cities of Africa.

How can CAF use the membership of various football associations to address the issue of youth unemployment and poverty alleviation on the continent?

Important and relevant questions that remain unanswered, probably due to the hackneyed nature of football administration in Africa.

Who knows the kind of force that could be ushered into the significance of African Football with a new guy at the top?

It seems the continent is still struggling when it comes to the issue of leadership as Hayatou continues to draw inspiration from his cohorts in the realm of politics.

Rather than enforcing institutions, Africa still seems to be busy with the creation of strong men.

William Manful

William Manful

William Manful is a human rights advocate committed to the democratization of Africa. He has worked as a contributing columnist for afrik- and talkafrique. He holds degrees in french and spanish as well as international relations from the University of Cambridge. Mr manful also writes on philosophy, sports and cinema. He is currently working for the Government of Ghana.


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