African Football Set-Up Is a Disgrace [column]

The recent happenings at the 2014 World Cup which saw the African countries fighting over matters not football-related is a clear indication that all is not well in the African football set-up.

The football associations of Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria were all tangled in disputes with their players who threatened not to honour their games unless their bonuses were paid up-front.

What an absolute embarrassment the fiasco caused football fans around the continent, while the situation obviously exposed the poor administrative skills of African football leaders.

Pay disputes between players and their federations stretch as far back as the 1998 World Cup when the Nigerian players threatened not to come out of their change room for the restart of the second half of their match against Argentina.

The Super Eagles went on to win the Group D match 3-2 after trailing 1-2 at halftime, but not after the Nigerian Minister of Sport apparently promised to honour the players their wish with the Nigerian Football Association clearly not in the position to do so.

For reasons only known to them, African football leaders don’t seem to deem it necessary to finalise the players’ bonuses well in aance of major tournaments, whether it is the World Cup, Olympic Games or the Africa Cup of Nations.

It seems that our football leaders never learn from one another’s mistakes, because the scenario is also common back home in Namibia where our national players also struggle to get meagre appearance fees, which is said to be a only N$5 000, from the NFA.

The most recent incident happened during the Brave Warriors’ Africa Cup of Nations qualifier away against Congo-Brazzaville in Pointe Noire.

These continued incidents make one wonder why the football associations never learn from their past mistakes and try and resolve financial matters way before tournaments.

Their European counterparts are said to be dealing with players’ bonuses even a year before the start of tournaments, hence the players are only focused on playing football.

Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon are all powerful football nations on the continent and they surely have the capacity to progress to the final of the World Cup. However, influences outside football always seem to hamper these nations from qualifying beyond the group stages.

If one followed the current World Cup closely, some of the African players who were on display in Brazil, have built better profiles than most of the players from the countries that have reached the quarter-final stage, which starts today.

Of course, one takes cognisance of the fact that the African associations cannot compete with their financially secured European and Latin American counterparts, however, the onus is on the leaders to canvas for funds with their governments and private sector to pay the players’ bonuses.

How can the football leaders expect to receive SampTs from their associations but they do nothing about making sure that the bonuses of the players are sorted out in aance.

To add insult to injury, it is a known fact that some football leaders even claim SampTs from their associations, while attending fully sponsored events like Fifa or Confederation of African Football conferences and workshops.

What puzzles me then is, why do administrators expect to be paid for their services towards the associations, while they are so reluctant to make sure that the players who are the most important aspects of the game of football, get their just compensation.

African football leaders must grow up and start to act professionally like their counterparts from outside the continent if they want to compete and win against the rest of the world. Otherwise we will remain the laughing stock of the world.

God save African football.

Source : The Namibian