How Ahmad begged Jordaan to aid AfricaThomas Kwenaite
Ahmad Ahmad: Bonjour Danny. I hope irrespective of the challenges that we face daily in our lives; you and the family are well. Things are really bad man. And I know we are currently not the best of buddies but, I really need your help.
Danny Jordaan: Hello Ahmad. Calm down and tell me what’s wrong and how I can help you, you are not been coherent.
AA: I do not think Cameroon was ready to host the 2019 AFCON. I have been there and I’ve read the Technical Team report and quite frankly, to cut a long story short, they still need additional time to put it together. That is why we decided to withdraw their hosting rights.
DJ: But Ahmad, this has allegedly been your plan all along. I heard disturbing stories along the grapevine that you have always wanted to strip them of the hosting right from the day you assumed office.
AA: Ce n’est pas vrai. (That’s not true) I just feel that they are not ready and we cannot afford to gamble with hosting an expanded edition of our flagship tournament where there might be chaos. And South Africa is the only country right now that can save us.
DJ: There are also unconfirmed rumors of course, that you seized the opportunity to pay back Cameroon after former President Issa Hayatou stripped your country Madagascar of the right to host the U-17 tournament recently. But, let us leave that out and, when did you come to the realization that South Africa is the only country that can save CAF right now?
AA: Regardez Danny, nous savons tous que l’Afrique du Sud est le seul pays en Afrique qui a accueilli la Coupe du Monde. (Look Danny, it is an undeniable fact that South Africa is the only African country that has hosted the FIFA World Cup) Even when Kenya failed to host the 1996 AFCON, you stepped in and did a magnificent job. And in 2013 when Libya could not host the tournament, again you stepped in so, without a shadow of doubt, no one has your kind of expertise in Africa.
DJ: You know you surprises me Ahmad. If you regard me so highly, why then, when I tried to get into the FIFA executive committee recently, you allegedly and deliberately blocked my honest and sincere attempt to occupy a seat in FIFA and sabotaged my endeavors by pushing Walter Nyamilandu instead, even though the executive committee of COSAFA had endorsed me as their sole candidate?
AA: Encore une fois, ce n’est pas vrai. (Again, that is not true). Permettez-moi d’etre honnette avec vous. (Let me be honest with you). It was our friends from North Africa. They pressurized me and twisted my arm, and made it clear to me that they did not want you ascending to a position of influence within FIFA or CAF because they feared that they might not be able to exert any influence on the continent.
DJ: But Ahmad. You are the boss. You are supposed to tell them that for our organization to grow, we should let democracy prevail and in addition, if there is a vacancy available, let the best man win and not engage in shenanigans that illegally advantages one candidate over another.
AA: But Danny, look, I know I messed up. But this is not the time to engage in petty issues. Let us consider the problems facing our Motherland right now. In six months, we are supposed to be hosting an expanded edition of the AFCON and no one is capable of staging a successful tournament except you and I need your help please.
DJ: I hear you Ahmad. And please do not get me wrong or interpret my views as someone who is bitter. I just need to understand from you what do we have to do now after you interfered in the democratic processes of the regional body by completely ignoring a decision taken by the COSAFA executive in which Walter Nyamilandu also took part and had lost an election that was free and fair, and despite all that, you allegedly overturned that decision and bandied him at the Congress as your preferred candidate.
AA: Danny… I’m sorry. I realize now that I was wrong, but believe me when I say that our brothers in the North fear that should you ascend to power, you will move the CAF headquarters from Cairo to Johannesburg among other things and they will no longer have any influence over the running of the game in Africa. It was their decision to block you by any means possible.
DJ: But Ahmad, it is not about me. It is about the game, its development and improvement across Africa. Right now, on the global scale, everybody has overtaken us. We used to be stronger and ahead of Asia and Oceania on the field of play. But they have since overtaken us and you know why? It’s because while we have been squabbling over petty issues, they have been putting together ambitious plans on how to improve their football. And in any case, if all the African Federations believe that the CAF headquarters will better serve them if its located in Johannesburg, why not? If FIFA can see it fit to establish their regional offices at SAFA House, what is wrong with CAF also relocating to Johannesburg if that will serve the people better at this location? Not that I’m advocating for CAF to move their headquarters to Johannesburg, I’m just asking what if the majority wants it located in South Africa?
AA: Danny, I repeat, I’m sorry my brother. I beg you please, can we forget what happened in the past and let us focus on putting together mechanism to stage a successful tournament that only you and your country can pull off even at such short notice?
DJ: I cannot give you any definitive answer or guarantees at this stage. However, I assure you that I will request a meeting with the Minister of Sport and the South African cabinet and brief them about your request and should they agree, I will keep you informed.
AA: Thank you so much my friend. I knew you will not let Africa down.
DJ: Don’t count your chickens Ahmad, I will do my best to convince the government but it’s out of my hands.
N.B. THIS CONVERSATION NEVER TOOK PLACE, IT IS JUST A FIGMENT OF MY IMAGINATION!