FRANS Mbidi, the president of the Namibia Football Association, is a brave man. We have learned this week that Mbidi is part of a group of football associations in the southern African region who are giving African football supremo, Issa Hayatou sleepless nights.
As you would read elsewhere on today’s sports pages, Mbidi and his fellow football association presidents from COSAFA have decided to back Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar for the CAF presidential position. The elections take place in March in Ethiopia.
Mbidi has gone out very strongly against Hayatou, vowing to amass enough support to unseat the Cameroonian who has been at the helm of CAF since 1988, and seeking 12 more years in the hot seat. Why is Mbidi a brave man? It is common practice in politics and sports that contests of such nature are kept under wraps until election day. Those who go and vote on behalf of their countries don’t normally disclose their favourite candidates until they put the cross on the ballot box.But Mbidi, who is also vice president of COSAFA, and his fellows from the region, have decided to play the game differently. In fact, they have taken the fight to Hayatou. COSAFA president, Phillip Chiyangwa has decided to throw a party in his home country, Zimbabwe to which he has invited presidents of football associations in North, West and East Africa.
It is obvious that someone cannot call people of such stature just for a glass of wine and a plate of food. There must be more to it than just enjoying roasted meat and some of the finest wines in Zimbabwe. There is a grand plan behind the party and this has caused panic among the Hayatou supporters. Despite warnings to desist, Chiyangwa has vowed to throw his ‘party’ using clauses in the CAF statutes to justify why he will ignore Hayatou’s squeals.
This gamble by COSAFA could be a boon or a bane for Namibia and other southern African countries. If it works, Mbidi and company will go down in history as the wise men who stood up against football dictatorship in Africa. If it flops, the repercussions will reverberate all across the region. It will be time to write the obituary of southern African football.
African football is akin to politics where no mercy is shown to the enemy. COSAFA is already an enemy of Hayatou by simply deciding to go for one of their own. The backlash will be severe and it will even affect the extent to which Namibia will benefit from coaching, administration and refereeing, as well as other development support by CAF. Even if the Malagasy candidate does not win, COSAFA should hold its head high and should be commended for having stood up to Hayatou and his henchmen. It is time that CAF takes on a different complexion. For far too long, southern African football has suffered at the hands of the northern counterparts. This is evident in the favouritism displayed during club and national team competitions under the auspices of CAF.We wish Mbidi luck but we also warn him to look over his shoulder. COSAFA is not as united as it seems to suggest. There are whispers of at least two football presidents from COSAFA doing Hayatou’s bidding. If you had watched the just-ended 2017 African Cup of Nations in Gabon, you would have seen two guys from COSAFA always sitting close to Hayatou. Watch their moves, and you might be safe.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015