Chigwedere urges ‘jihad’

SPORTS minister Aeneas Chigwedere has launched an astonishing attack on the Confederation of African Football (Caf).

In a TV interview in Harare on Wednesday, Chigwedere accused the Cairo-based body of institutionalised bias.

He

claimed that English-speaking countries in southern and east Africa were being marginalised by Caf.

Chigwedere said that Zimbabwe needs to “join hands with other governments to launch a war” against the organisation headed by Cameroonian Issa Hayatou.

Chigwedere’s outburst follows Zimbabwe’s unsuccessful bid for the 2010 African Nations Cup finals.

Mozambique and Namibia were also among the bidding countries that failed to make Caf’s shortlist of four when presentations were made in Cairo last month.

Nigeria, Libya, Angola and joint bidders Gabon and Equatorial Guinea were shortlisted after a selection process the Mozambicans later described as a joke.

Speaking at length on national television, Chigwedere said that Caf must give more countries a chance to host the Nations Cup.

“A whole region of Africa is being marginalised, and we have to press for a rotation system between regions,” an incensed Chigwedere said.

He fumed: “It’s a war, and we’ll campaign as governments, and we need to convince heads of states that we’re being marginalised.”

Chigwedere, who headed Zimbabwe’s bid delegation in Cairo, said that the country is in the process of lodging an appeal with world governing body, Fifa.

Should that fail, Zimbabwe would consider taking its case to the International Court for Arbitration in Sport.

“We’re doing it for long-term purposes, we’re not fighting a Zimbabwean battle, it’s a war for southern Africa, for central Africa, for east Africa, these regions are being discriminated against.”

Since the inception of the African Nations Cup in 1957, only one country south of the Equator has hosted the tournament — South Africa in 1996.

Caf had indicated that countries that had not hosted the competition would be given preference in the hosting of the 2010 edition.

“It’s very clear that there’s a conflict of political or cultural interests,” said Chigwedere.

“The whole belt being marginalised is largely of former British colonies, where Christianity is the main religion.
“How can Egypt have been allowed to host four times when it’s only come to southern Africa once?
“We’ll fight so that things will be different beyond 2010, but if we’re ignored, we’ll consider other options such as breaking away from Caf, whatever that may mean.” — BBC Sport.

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