…in the face of bribery allegations against African delegates
By: Kofi Owusu Aduonum
Recent allegations of corruption including accepting bribes for votes, made against high ranking African football officials have dented the pride of the continent, following the commendable hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Finals in South Africa.
With the latest claims involving CAF President Issa Hayatou, why has it taken so long for Africa to respond? Former BBC Fast Track anchor and E-Ghana Executive Producer, Yaw Ampofo-Ankrah, has been speaking as the first voice of protest from Ghana.
With just hours before the vote to decide the hosts for the next two World Cup Finals after Brazil, Ghana’s Kwasi Nyantakyi, the man who has presided over what many see as the most stable and progressive era of his country’s football since the heydays of the late 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s, has called on fellow African football administrators to unite and save the hard won reputation of the continent’s football legacy before it is discredited beyond repair.
The legal practitioner is the first African FA boss to publicly react to the most serious allegations leveled against the continent’s football President Alhaji Issa Hayatou.
”These are serious and potentially catastrophic allegations against African football and until they are proven or dismissed we must defend the integrity and pride of the continent’s hard won achievements on the global football stage”
Although Hayatou himself has strongly denied bribery claims made in a BBC documentary, the almost silent ”protest” of African football officials is seen by many analysts as alarming.
The allegations against Hayatou, whose almost three decades of rule has seen both turbulent and remarkably successful spells in many ways mirror what the Ghanaian FA President has had to endure in recent times.
”I sympathise with Hayatou and can understand what he might be going through Nyantakyi stated. But beyond that, we must also look at protecting the integrity of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) as a noble institution.”
Cameroonian Hayatou, a vice-president of football’s world governing body FIFA, says he is considering legal action after the BBC’s Panorama investigations claimed he took 100,000 French francs (£12,900) in 1995 from sports marketing firm ISL, which was lobbying to gain lucrative FIFA deals.
Mr Hayatou said the money was part of a sponsorship deal for the Confederation of African Football (CAF).”This money was not for me, it was for the 40th anniversary of CAF,”
“At that time ISL was the sponsor of CAF and they give the money to CAF and not to me, and the executive committee of CAF accepted it and approved it.
“I have got an appointment with my lawyers, I will talk to them and I will take it from there.”
Two other FIFA officials – Nicolas Leoz, from Paraguay, and Ricardo Teixeira, from Brazil also stand accused of collecting bribes.
All three are on the 22-strong panel currently deciding who will host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022 but have so far received some blanket support.
“It is therefore important to stress again the fact that no FIFA officials were accused of any criminal offence in these proceedings.”
Hayatou may call on the Ghanaian for a few tips on how to keep calm and focused under pressure when seemingly cornered by such serious allegations.
Nyantakyi, who has had his fair share of accusations and recently survived a government directive to stand down for African football legend Abedi Ayew Pele to contest a seat on the executive committee of CAF is lobbying support for his bid.
His critics say he has watched over a greedy and corrupt administration, but concrete evidence has yet to be presented to support these claims.
Indeed supporters of Nyantakyi including the Ghana Sports Advocates Coalition (GSAC) insist that it is not strange for one person to hold the position of FA President and a seat on CAF/FIFA executive committee.