Give Motsepe a chance – he might pull it offThomas Kwenaite
Patrice Motsepe will be crowned as the Confederation of African Football’s capo di tuti capi in Rabat, Morocco’s capital city known for its landmarks that speak to its Islamic and French colonial heritage which includes the Kasbah of the Udayas and nestles along the shores of the Bouregreg River and the Atlantic Ocean.
No event on African football has ever elicited as much debate with some on the overzealous side harshly criticizing FIFA whether rightly or wrongly, of “interfering” in the election of the man that would on Friday become top dog in the African game that had for many years been dogged by controversy, corruption and in some instances governance issues.
There are others, that have expertly masked their criticism of FIFA’s “interference” with an undercurrent of subtle hints indicating allegiance to suspected tribalistic sentiments where the Francophone have always been in control of CAF and suddenly feel the presence of this Anglophone “upstart” and cannot exactly fathom whether to trust him to successfully run with the baton.
Let us genuinely and honestly face reality. African football has not covered itself in glory during the last four years. The bottom fell when Kwesi Nyantakyi, one of the brightest rising stars under the administration of Issa Hayatou, was unfortunately caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
Then Ahmad Ahmad left a lot of blood on the floor in that unbelievable coup in Addis Ababa. But no sooner had he ascended to the throne, there were murmurs of misconduct, mismanagement of funds, unsanctioned trips to Mecca and sadly, allegations of sexual harassment thrown in as well.
Congolese Constant Omari his deputy, held the reigns briefly when Ahmad was banned. But reports emerged that he had been arrested by Congolese authorities along with three other football officials and questioned on suspicion of embezzling money given to the federation by the government to fund the DR Congo national teams and various Congolese clubs playing in CAF competitions.
Outspoken former Liberian FA President Musa Hassan Bility laid bare the rot within the leadership of CAF. Former Botswana Football Association General Secretary Mooketsi Kgotlele was slapped with a life ban by FIFA for collaborating with confessed match fixer Raj Perumal to manipulate matches.
The CAF broadcast contracts with Lagardere were terminated and for the last three years, followers of the beautiful game have been denied the opportunity to watch the African World Cup qualifiers, AFCON qualifiers, CHAN tournament and CAF Champions League matches.
It goes on!
African football has never been in a worse state of crisis. There are also tragic sentiments expressed by critics that FIFA is trying to colonize Africa and rumours abound that the global organization wants to wash its hands off Fatma Samoura and intend dumping her onto the lap of Motsepe to act as the CAF Secretary General in the new dispensation.
There are also fears within African football corridors, that FIFA would manipulate Motsepe. But those people certainly do not know the boy from Ga-Mmakau! Humble and courteous yes, but certainly nobody’s lackey!
As the African game descend into a chaotic state, we seem like a continent at war with itself, zealously hell bent on committing hara-kiri and loading revolvers to shoot ourselves in the nose in order to spite our face! No doubt the game has taken a battering and the image of the African game has taken a serious hammering.
But something needs to give.
And perhaps FIFA could not just stand aside and fold their arms while we engaged in an attempt to destroy the game in our own fatherland. And maybe the unity that has been forged by the four candidates to collectively run African football might just turn out to be the best thing that has ever happened to the African game.
Maybe African football needs a fresh start, to spruce itself and reinvent itself and perhaps that time is now. And rather than condemn Patrice Motsepe and his West African lieutenants, let us give them a chance and personally I’m prepared to support them in the hope that they would pull our game out of the doldrums!