The Observer (Kampala)

29 November 2012

Uganda/Egypt: Vianney Nsimbe - It's Time Up for CAF President Hayatou

Last Friday, I went through a range of emotions.

Having helped my team, The Observer Blues (just a nickname and nothing to do with their fortunes) take a 2-0 half-time lead against Blue Cube, I was disheartened to see us lose 4-2 eventually.

But as I reflected on how we self-destructed to throw it all away, I was treated to a sumptuous dinner at the Sheraton hotel during a marvellously organised Cecafa-United Against Malaria gala night. A lot had to do with the captivating Rogers Mulindwa, the Fufa spokesman, who was the event's emcee.

You see, following his futile comments that have been playing on many FM stations that SuperSport would never telecast the Uganda Super League but the Fufa Super League, Mulindwa's reputation had taken a knock.

Thus, I didn't think he would have the nerve to show-up at a public gathering of high repute with people like Issa Hayatou, the Caf president as chief-guest. But then again, the man has nerve. So it was heart warming to see a spirited Mulindwa on the microphone enliven the occasion with some nice jokes.

At least I was able to forget about the Observer Blues' misfortunes. That said, I wasn't comfortable with Mulindwa's and Leodegar Tenga, the Cecafa president's raving vote of confidence in Hayatou to seek another term in office after 25 years.

I had hoped that Hayatou's presence was simply to help end the problems that have riddled Ugandan football: two Fufas and two super leagues. Yet, as he earnestly served himself Ugandan fish, enjoyed the nice music and the gifts he received, his ulterior motive was to ask for "some more" time at the helm of African football.

To do that when African football especially Ugandan football continues to flounder is a little unsavoury. It is indeed a damning indictment on Hayatou. Apart from the $150,000 Caf gives each of its member associations a year, Caf has supervised decay.

And this is because the Caf offices in Egypt have no apparent supervisor. When URA FC was due to travel to Mali to face Djoliba AC, it anxiously sought Caf's view on the matter, given that Mali was drenched in political turmoil. Caf responded about two weeks later and URA failed to travel.

When it comes to fan attendance, it is a sorry state with the Caf's Champions League and Caf Confederations cups - very few fans watch them. Yet all Hayatou's seemingly pertinent issue is amending the constitution to lock out men like South Africa's Danny Jordaan from taking the presidency.

To make it worse, a Caf clause states that only Caf executive members are eligible to stand against Hayatou. Of course no one around him would dare contest against him.

Maintaining the status-quo fits them perfectly. Yet African football needs valiant men like Jordaan, who helped bring the World Cup to South Africa and organise it to its fruition. They can improve the spectrum of African football too so that it becomes as interesting as the Uefa Champions League or the Europa League.

This would also aid the ailing clubs by bringing in big sponsors. In Europe, even the smallest of clubs gets into the Champions League group stage with a $20 million start-up kitty.

But URA which played in two rounds of the Caf Champions League last season, they used close to Shs 300m, nearly half their annual budget and only generated less than Shs 15m in gate collection.

That's what makes continental club games worthless. South African clubs have instead concentrated on domestic Cups like the Nedbank and Telkom Cups and play second string sides in Caf games to get bundled out early.

Oliver Twist was justified in asking for "some more". But Hayatou is over the hill and there's nothing more for him.

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