That’s fraud!

IndependentSport View with Darlington Majonga


THE Confederation of African Football (CAF)’s knee-jerk decision to cherry-pick hosts for the next two after the 2010 African Nations Cup finals is as baffling as it is scandalous.

CAF announced last week

that Angola would be hosting the 2010 Nations Cup finals. Fair and fine.

Then from out of the blue, the eggheads that preside over African football decided to placate the losers of the 2010 bid by naming them hosts of the 2012 and 2014 finals — Gabon/Equatorial Guinea and Libya respectively.

Now that is fraud!

As if that was not enough, CAF went on to foist an unsolicited offer on Nigeria, the other losers, to host the World Under-17 Championship that has been guaranteed to Africa in 2009.

If anything, the whole fiasco smacks of fraud thinly veiled as an attempt to spread the game to every nook and cranny of the continent and packaged as the panacea to all the snags and hitches associated with the tournament.

Honestly, how does CAF expect all those that had intended to bid for the 2012 and 2014 finals to feel?

If this whole shenanigan was not about political mileage and brazen mischief on the part of Issa Hayatou and his cohorts, CAF should have announced in advance that the hosts for the 2012 and 2014 finals were going to be decided at the same time as the 2010 hosts.

In short, the mandarins at CAF have not only short-changed but also robbed the likes of Zimbabwe, Namibia and Mozambique who might have fancied their chances of finally hosting the prestigious biennial tournament after losing out in the first round of the 2010 race.

If CAF by its shameful actions has not given hostage to fortune, then the continental body has shown us how serious it is in running — read ruining — football.

One would think Sports minister Aeneas Chigwedere was right to call for a jihad against CAF after what he alleged as the premeditated snub of Zimbabwe’s bid among others.

Of course, it would still prove a hard sell for conspiracy theorists to convince the world Zimbabwe’s bid to host the 2010 Nations Cup finals failed for any reason other than what they know already.

We know Zimbabwe’s bid was a lost cause from the onset — and anyone who believes the country was the best candidate for 2010 might as well believe he is not his mother’s son.

Even the Zimbabwe Football Association knew full well that the country’s bid was merely a matter of trying its luck
But that could have been stretching our luck too far — taking into cognisance the debilitating economic, political and social crisis that has pauperised Zimbabwe. 

The government, hamstrung by an acute shortage of foreign currency, has no answer to the crippling fuel crisis Zimbabwe has suffered over the past six years.

Other critical imports such as drugs and power are still causing migraine headaches among our rulers.

Inflation is wreaking havoc near the 1 000% mark, and the central bank has had to print money to fund key national programmes as well as pay salaries for restless civil servants.

It’s a shame if anyone felt the fact that South Africa will be hosting the 2010 World Cup was a crucial rallying point for Zimbabwe’s Nations Cup bid when there is more to hosting a 16-team tournament than proximity to an organised country trusted with the world’s biggest soccer showcase.

In any case, Angola, Namibia and Mozambique — who were all bidding for the 2010 Nations Cup finals — are not lesser neighbours to South Africa.

What we thought really mattered to CAF were such things as financial backing, stadia, security, transport and communications as well as organisational capacity.

Admittedly, Zimbabwe would be found wanting in all those areas. So 2010 was out of question and honestly a misplaced priority for the country.

But what evidence does CAF have that things will still be the same in Zimbabwe come 2012? Interesting.

Even if the economic crisis were to persist in Zimbabwe, why would CAF wake up to deny any other country the chance to bid for the 2012 and 2014 Nations Cup finals?

As if to show us that they were ashamed of their decisions, the CAF no-hopers went on to place Nigeria on standby for 2010 on top of guaranteeing the country the 2009 Under-17 World Championship.

A case of appeasing Nigeria, one could clearly see.

The mind should not even boggle: the continent’s football is at the mercy of incompetent administrators apparently hell-bent on sating their egos.

Hosting the Nations Cup finals — Hayatou and his bootlickers might want to know — is not only meant for pride as well as to buy some people votes.

Besides giving the hosts economic impetus, the tournament surely turns the eye of the football-crazy world to a spot they might never have bothered about. It gives the hosts a podium to market their talent and show the world that they too have players good enough for the best leagues in Europe.

Angola, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea as well as Libya might soon bear testimony to that.

Previously weak footballing nations such as Burkina Faso and Mali are enjoying the fruits of hosting the Nations Cup. Their players are now dotted all over Europe and it’s good for them.

CAF’s unilateral decision in Cairo last week would have been welcome had the plan been announced well in advance.

Though we are yet to have any hosts complaining of lack of adequate time, the idea would not be bad for preparation purposes and marketing strategies.

But it’s this fraud whereby a few men wake up and suddenly decide to foist the Nations Cup finals on countries that themselves should have been shocked. Of course we don’t remember Gabon/Equatorial Guinea and Libya saying they wanted the tournament in 2012 and 2014 respectively.

Unless there is a scandal worse than what we see. Bizarre things still happen!

dmajonga@yahoo.com