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Caf’s battle against Southern Africa


The magic of football is to unite people, to entertain people and most of all, to leave a lasting legacy in the development of stadia, facilities and creation of employment in related sectors.

It is the main reason that on October 19 2009, the United Nations granted the International Olympic Committee (IOC) observer status at its assembly meeting in New York.

This decision, according the IOC, pays tribute to its efforts to contribute to the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

By using sport as a tool, the IOC and its partners implement various activities across the globe in fields such as humanitarian assistance, education, gender equality, environment, the fight against HIV and Aids and even more importantly, peace-building,
The German-South African-run Youth Development through Football describes the beautiful game as: “More than any other sport, football has the power to unite people and cultures all over the world. As a team sport it promotes fairness and tolerance, leapfrogs gender boundaries and fosters mutual understanding, thereby contributing to the positive development of personality and character.”

Strangely, these views are not shared by the Confederation of African Football (Caf). This is an organisation run by Issa Hayatou — who was given another four-year mandate last month — that has failed to unite its 54 associations under its umbrella by effectively using the mass appeal of football.

The recent treatment of FC Platinum to hold their Caf Champions League matches at Mandava Stadium is a case in point.

Mandava is situated in Zvishavane which has no three-star hotels to accommodate visiting teams and officials, with the nearest hotel 95km away in Masvingo. Green Mamba of Swaziland came last month, stayed and trained in Masvingo, played and left.

But Caf, always seeking much more closer ties with North and West African countries than the East and South, saw everything wrong in Platinum’s redevelopment of Mandava, the creation of employment in that regard and initiatives to take football to other centres outside Harare and Bulawayo.

Yet this mandate is firmly part of Caf’s goals. Now El Merreikh of Sudan, who have an obvious ear in the Caf corridors, want to play in Harare instead of Zvishavane even when Platinum have offered them a chartered flight to Masvingo.

Caf statutes say if teams agree on a venue, it shall be so, so why is Caf maintaining the venue should be changed?

This is the same organisation that saw nothing wrong in Shabanie Mine hosting St Michel of Mauritius in the Confederation Cup a decade ago at Maglas Stadium. But they did see everything wrong in 2000 by taking away Zimbabwe’s rights to host the Africa Cup of Nations finals.

Masvingo and Highlanders have received three-year bans of late for refusing to take part in Caf competitions while South Africa’s Kaizer Chiefs declared they will never play in Africa after being banned for refusing to travel to the then war-torn Madagascar more than five years ago.

Namibia lost their bid to play in the 2012 Afcon finals despite clear evidence Burkina Faso used an ineligible Herve Zengue during the qualifiers.

Caf stubbornly refused to listen to Namibia on the technicality that they had filed their case late. It’s about time, football leaders in the region wake up from their cuckoo land and realise the region has no future, save for South Africa, under Hayatou.

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