Umuahia — The Abia Director of Sports, Ejikeme Ikwunze, has asked the African Football Confederation (CAF) to introduce "drastic reforms" that would bring positive change to football in Africa.
Ikwunze made the call in an interview in Umuahia on Sunday. He dwelt on the challenges of the continental football governing body.
He said there was need for a transformation of African football to meet the standard in Europe, to check the exodus of talents from the continent to other parts of the world.
He regretted that African football had not improved significantly since the inception of CAF in 1957.
Ikwunze blamed the situation on the "obsolete ideas" of the leadership of the confederation.
He also regretted that CAF was recycling its executive members, citing the re-election of its president, Issa Hayatou, who had remained in office as president since 1988, as an instance.
Ikwunze attributed Hayatou's re-election and the failure of the President, Nigeria Football Association (NFA), Aminu Maigari, to make the CAF executive to "Francophone connections and power of language."
"CAF is not doing well because it is recycling persons. CAF is recycling Hayatou," Ikwunze, popularly called "Mr Football", said.
"In Africa, we have 53 countries that make up CAF and about 75 per cent of the membership is Francophone and they employed the power of language in the election.
"Maigari would have been a wonderful man to be in the CAF executive. He deserved to be there," Ikwunze said, regretting that "he was schemed out due to Francophone connection".
He advised the NFF president not to be discouraged by the outcome of the election.
"Abraham Lincoln failed election many times in America but kept on trying, so Maigari should not be discouraged," he said.
He described Maigari as "a good, gentle, highly organised and a very articulate man," arguing that he had brought transformation to football administration in Nigeria.
Ikwunze urged CAF to emulate FIFA's outstanding performance over the years, saying: "FIFA has introduced a number of reforms, why can't CAF do the same?"
He also described CAF's 1.5 million dollars cash prize for winning AFCON, as "paltry and insulting," adding that such an amount should be for teams that merely qualified for the championship.
Ikwunze said the 10 million dollars usually disbursed to the body by FIFA annually as part of its financial assistance programme had not been substantially deployed to football development and players' welfare.
The sports director appealed to CAF to replicate FIFA's 'financial assistance programmes and goals projects' in Africa to promote football development and players' welfare.
Ikwunze also lamented that no Nigerian had officiated as centre referee in the finals of CAF-organised tournaments, while smaller countries had continued to officiate in that capacity.
He warned that "Nigeria will continue to lose out due to the intrigues in CAF," and urged the country to "learn football politics and get involved in it."
Ikwunze, who recently authored a book on "World Cup: A Statistical Analysis from 1930-2010," called for a reliable data base and proper documentation on African football. (NAN)