THE QUES­TION

Af­ter re­porter Anas’ re­port on dodgy deals brought down the lead­er­ship of the Ghana Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion in June, ev­ery­one who spoke to The Africa Re­port was unan­i­mous in say­ing that graft is hurt­ing the game

The Africa Report - - CONTENTS -

YesThe abuse of author­ity at any level of gov­er­nance has hin­dered the de­vel­op­ment of the sport in Africa. Count­less play­ers are de­nied the chance to rep­re­sent their coun­tries be­cause an of­fi­cial has a cer­tain player pref­er­ence or a coach has con­nived with an agent to pre­s­e­lect a team. The re­sult is sham­bolic per­for­mances and pitiable tech­ni­cal de­vel­op­ment. Money, do­na­tions of equip­ment and false prom­ises di­rected at foot­ball stake­hold­ers and of­fer­ings of other gifts have thrust foot­ball power into the hands of peo­ple whose in­ter­ests lie far from ad­vanc­ing the game. This has re­sulted in the stag­na­tion of var­i­ous projects. Grass­roots and youth in­vest­ment has suf­fered; and poor work­man­ship on in­fra­struc­ture has left leagues with a very sad state of play­ing fields. It is not un­com­mon to find sta­di­ums and tech­ni­cal cen­tres that are in­com­plete, derelict, with­out rein­vest­ment and un­safe be­cause re­sources for these pro­grammes have had to be shared be­tween con­trac­tors and of­fi­cials who want to with­hold ‘some­thing’ for their lux­ury life­styles. That poor state is ev­i­dent across the con­ti­nent in the kind of play­ing fields and turfs that char­ac­terise even the top di­vi­sions. The im­pact of this is dis­cernible from the po­si­tion the con­ti­nent oc­cu­pies in global foot­ball de­vel­op­ment. Yet, else­where, African tal­ents rule the world’s top leagues.

Yes, butAs bad as the evidence has been, cor­rup­tion is not a prob­lem for Africa alone. African foot­ball doesn’t have a cor­rup­tion prob­lem, foot­ball does. We have seen nu­mer­ous oc­cur­rences of cor­rup­tion in FIFA. It is in­sti­tu­tional, not iso­lated to Africa. Africa has so much un­re­alised foot­ball po­ten­tial. Un­for­tu­nately, the ve­nal­ity of some of­fi­cials has stag­nated the con­ti­nent. We are yet to see an African team progress to the semi-fi­nal stage of a World Cup. Ge­orge Weah is the first and only African player to win a Bal­lon d’or. Since then, we haven’t seen an African player fea­ture in the three-man shortlist. I don’t be­lieve there hasn’t been a player good enough in over two decades. In the wake of the Anas in­ves­ti­ga­tions into cor­rup­tion – which has seen the dis­so­lu­tion of the Ghana­ian Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion – the re­ac­tion from the public was that of ex­pec­ta­tion, as op­posed to shock. That, in it­self, tells a story. This is the norm. Per­sonal gain is too of­ten given more im­por­tance than con­ti­nen­tal pro­gres­sion. As a con­ti­nent with a proud her­itage, Africa must be its own barom­e­ter of moral­ity. There must be a public ab­hor­rence to cor­rupt prac­tices. We have seen how ef­fec­tive the Time’s Up and #metoo move­ments have been. It will take a col­lec­tive ef­fort to ef­fect real change and hold those who abuse their po­si­tions ac­count­able.

ERICK MWANZA Club li­cens­ing man­ager, Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion of Zam­bia & CAF Me­dia Man­ager

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