CHANGES in store at CAF

New pres­i­dent wants the sporting body to be­come more in­clu­sive by stomp­ing out crony­ism

CityPress - - Sport - TIMOTHY MOLOBI timothy@city­press.co.za

Newly elected pres­i­dent Ah­mad Ah­mad is clear – the days of cronies and ne­po­tism in the Con­fed­er­a­tion of African Foot­ball (CAF) are over.

Speak­ing for the first time since he was elected last month, Ah­mad told City Press on Fri­day that he en­vis­aged an allinclu­sive African or­gan­i­sa­tion.

He said that it was not right for the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s head­quar­ters in Cairo to be dom­i­nated by peo­ple from Egypt, and he be­lieved that there were many peo­ple from var­i­ous re­gions who could add value.

Ah­mad vis­ited the CAF head­quar­ters last month for the first time as pres­i­dent of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, and said a few changes needed to be made.

“It is not enough what we have, but let us first im­ple­ment our organogram and af­ter that we can see what needs to be done. We have the ex­per­tise, but it is not enough. My pro­gramme is clear: per­son­nel in CAF has to be in­creased in other coun­tries, not only in Egypt. We must bring in the ex­perts be­cause, when you de­velop, you need all the cul­tures of the con­ti­nent.”

He said the new CAF lead­er­ship would dis­cuss a few is­sues when they meet next month. These in­clude a con­tro­ver­sial tele­vi­sion rights deal and the tim­ing of the stag­ing of the Africa Cup of Na­tions (Afcon) tour­na­ments.

TV rights

He has raised con­cerns over the 12-year tele­vi­sion deal that his pre­de­ces­sor Issa Hay­a­tou signed last year with France-based La­gardère Sports and En­ter­tain­ment. He said they were study­ing the de­tails of the con­tro­ver­sial deal to de­cide on a way for­ward.

“Ev­ery­one has agreed that it is not a good con­tract, and it is not good for African foot­ball.”

He said the con­tract was be­ing re­viewed by broad­cast and mar­ket­ing ex­perts.

“The con­tract is the sub­ject of a ju­di­cial chal­lenge in Egyp­tian courts at the mo­ment. We will in­ves­ti­gate, but I am con­cerned about the length of the con­tract. I would never sign any­thing for longer than three years.”

Afcon tim­ing

With the tim­ing of the Afcon tour­na­ments a con­stant is­sue with Euro­pean clubs, which are re­luc­tant to re­lease play­ers be­cause it is staged in the mid­dle of their sea­son, the pres­i­dent said they would dis­cuss if there was a need to re­vise how of­ten the tour­na­ment was held. “I will be con­sult­ing with many stake­hold­ers to dis­cuss if there is a need to in­crease the amount of time be­tween Afcons. This is the most im­por­tant com­pe­ti­tion in Africa and the third most im­por­tant in the world. I am ready to lis­ten. I am not some­one who will make de­ci­sions on my own. It is up to the peo­ple.”

Grass roots

Ah­mad is a firm be­liever in de­vel­op­ment and said he would chan­nel more ef­forts to­wards grass roots foot­ball. He said he would en­gage with univer­si­ties and schools in this re­gard.

“For us to pro­duce many good play­ers, we need to go to school level and to vil­lages to give them op­por­tu­ni­ties, be­cause you don’t know where to get tal­ent. Not only do we have to pro­duce play­ers, but we have to ed­u­cate and pro­tect our young peo­ple. If we want to de­velop the econ­omy, we have to in­vest in young peo­ple as they are our future. Foot­ball has the power to de­velop our coun­tries.”

Women’s foot­ball

He said he would strive to make women’s foot­ball a pri­or­ity and said there was a lot of tal­ent in Africa.

“We have to start some­where – even Fifa has made women’s foot­ball its top pri­or­ity.”

PHOTO: LEON SADIKI

TOP DOG CAF pres­i­dent Ah­mad Ah­mad

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