It is Africa’s time to lead

Fifa pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Tokyo Sexwale says the con­ti­nent must stand and be counted

CityPress - - Sport - TIM­O­THY MOLOBI tim­o­thy@city­

Fifa pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Tokyo Sexwale has said Africa will be the loser if he fails to be elected in Fe­bru­ary to head up foot­ball’s world gov­ern­ing body. Speak­ing at the an­nual gen­eral meet­ing of the Coun­cil of South­ern African Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tions (Cosafa) in Sand­ton yes­ter­day, Sexwale said the fact that, for the past 110 years, Fifa had not been led by an African was a record it needed to rid it­self of. He said African coun­tries had to stand and be counted if they were to be taken se­ri­ously.

Four of the five can­di­dates – Sexwale, Jérôme Cham­pagne, Gianni In­fantino and Sheikh Sal­man Bin Ibrahim al-Khal­ifa graced the gath­er­ing yes­ter­day while Prince Ali Bin al-Hus­sein sent his rep­re­sen­ta­tive. The prince ad­dressed the meet­ing via a video link. All were united in say­ing that Fifa needed to trans­form and agreed that some­thing needed to be done to re­store the cred­i­bil­ity of the or­gan­i­sa­tion. Sexwale said it was Africa’s time to lead. “I won’t fail, but Africa would have failed if I don’t make it,” said Sexwale. “For 110 years, Africa has been on the bench, warm­ing it, and now it is about time. The time for di­ver­sity has ar­rived and it is Africa’s time. It is not about race – be­cause my cre­den­tials on non­ra­cial­ism are well doc­u­mented – it is about show­ing that Fifa is for ev­ery­one and not just for cer­tain peo­ple.

“The ‘i’ in Fifa is for in­ter­na­tional – un­less if peo­ple want to re­place it with the ‘c’ for con­ti­nen­tal.”

Sexwale said African foot­ball was suf­fer­ing, as it was treated in the way de­vel­op­ing coun­tries were treated in the eco­nomic field.

“Foot­ball is not bro­ken, but heart­bro­ken. We are bleed­ing, as most of the peo­ple [Fifa of­fi­cials charged with cor­rup­tion] are ei­ther on the run or ar­rested, and we feel for all of them. As a demo­crat, I hope they are all in­no­cent. The brand is dam­aged and has to be changed,” said Sexwale. He said Fifa needed to be democra­tised. “Peo­ple who choose the lead­er­ship must feel the own­er­ship and con­trol of the or­gan­i­sa­tion. There has to be trans­parency in de­ci­sion mak­ing and fi­nances.”

He said he was happy with how his cam­paign had gone and was at peace with him­self. “It is dif­fer­ent from cam­paign­ing for the coun­try, be­cause here, no mat­ter how many mil­lions the coun­try has, only one per­son will vote. You have to travel to most of the coun­tries and meet rel­e­vant peo­ple, but I am happy.”

Cham­pagne said Fifa needed re­build­ing to re­store its cred­i­bil­ity. He be­lieved he was the right can­di­date based on his ex­pe­ri­ence of hav­ing worked for the or­gan­i­sa­tion for 11 years.

“We need to retie the knot be­tween the fans, play­ers and the lead­er­ship. I served Fifa and I know ex­actly what needs to be done,” said Cham­pagne.

Union of Euro­pean Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tions (Uefa) gen­eral sec­re­tary In­fantino, who had to leave to catch a flight to Ja­pan, said there was a need to re­store the cred­i­bil­ity and im­age of Fifa, and the trust of the peo­ple in Fifa as an or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“In or­der to do this we have to im­ple­ment the re­forms we were speak­ing about. We have to bring full fi­nan­cial trans­parency into Fifa,” he said.

“We have to know how the money comes in and where the money goes. All the money flows have to be clearly iden­ti­fied and pub­lished in a trans­par­ent and pub­lic way. We need to in­tro­duce clean gov­er­nance in Fifa.”

In­fantino added that he did not see him­self “at all as a Uefa can­di­date”. He said: “I have the back­ing of Uefa, cer­tainly, but I am not a Uefa can­di­date. I am a can­di­date for foot­ball. That’s the way I have lived all my life and that’s the way I see Fifa in the fu­ture.

“It’s an ad­van­tage to have the back­ing of the Euro­pean as­so­ci­a­tions go­ing for­ward, but it is im­por­tant that they un­der­stand as well, the Euro­peans, that they have to be part of a global game with Fifa.”



Fifa pres­i­den­tial can­di­date,

Tokyo Sexwale

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