Magazine article New African

Is African Football on a Road to Nowhere: The Fallout from the September Meeting of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), as Well as the Return of Previously Banned Officials to CAF's All-Powerful Executive Committee, Indicates That Nothing Has Been Learnt in the Corridors of Power, Reports Osasu Obayiuwana, Our Football Editor

Magazine article New African

Is African Football on a Road to Nowhere: The Fallout from the September Meeting of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), as Well as the Return of Previously Banned Officials to CAF's All-Powerful Executive Committee, Indicates That Nothing Has Been Learnt in the Corridors of Power, Reports Osasu Obayiuwana, Our Football Editor

Article excerpt

EDMUND BURKE, THE 18TH CENtury British philosopher and politician, made a very poignant observation about the visceral, brutal nature of combat in the moral square. "When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an un-pitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle," he said.

There appears to be a frightening conclusion, within the continent's football community, that those bent on maintaining their iron-grip on the Confederation of African Football have, for now, outsmarted and outfoxed those seeking genuine, sustained change.

"It makes no sense for those wanting change to stand with nothing, when your enemy has an entire artillery lined up against you," a high-profile personality, who has been at the razor-sharp end of African football politics, recently told me, over a dinner conversation in Johannesburg.

"When you are faced with such a situation, it is best to retreat and regroup, in order to have any chance of winning the battle in the future," he said.

It is a lesson that Leodegar Tenga, the president of the Football Association of Tanzania, who also heads CECAFA, the East African regional football body, has clearly taken to heart.

After being the lone man on CAF's executive committee to courageously oppose, on the record, the controversial change in September of the eligibility rules for the CAF presidency (see NA Nov) which allows only voting members of the CAF executive to contest the office, Tenga has kept his own counsel.

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Tenga has bluntly refused requests, and there have been many, for him to speak publicly on the recent events within CAF, opting to maintain a studied--even if heavily pregnant--silence, on the happenings within its inner sanctum.

"Ah, you are expecting me to comment on what happened in the Seychelles?" he said, laughing, when we met at the Beverly Hills Hotel in the Durban suburb of Umlanga, on the eve of the draw for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

"There is no way that I am going to say anything on that ... But I will say this--I always stand for what I believe in. I will always stand for things, on principle," Tenga said.

But Kalusha Bwalya, the 1988 African footballer of the year, a colleague of Tenga's on the CAF executive, was not as reticent, concerning what took place in September.

"I have read a lot about what happened in the Seychelles. There was a proposal [from CAF executive member Mohammed Raouraoua of Algeria] which was supported by six or seven countries and then there was a vote ...

"There was never any counter proposal ... There are rules and regulations in football. If people are not happy with this new rule, let them come up with a proposal and it can be examined," Bwalya argued, during a one-hour conversation we had.

"In Zambia for instance," Bwalya continued, "we have a rule that anyone contesting the presidency of the FA must have worked in club football for five years. And to be a member of the executive, he must have worked in club football for three years.

"I have heard that the new CAF rule was brought about to prevent certain people from becoming the president. But I can .tell you that no one has approached me to say that they intend to contest the presidency," the Zambian said.

Responding to the comments of Jacques Anouma, the FIFA executive committee member (who is on the CAF executive committee as an ex-officio member), who told me that September's deliberations were held in a "hypocritical, secretive atmosphere", Bwalya accused him of violating the principles of "collective responsibility", by discussing the group's inner workings. …

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