CAF Awards: A Mockery Of The Continent's Sport

By DESMOND EKWUEME
We all thought that with the exit of Issa Hayatou from CAF and the emergence of Ahmad Ahmad a few elementary errors will be corrected and some primary changes effected in the continent's football governing body but with the shambolic organization of the apex awards of the body in Accra, Ghana, we can only keep praying and hoping for the true change to come.
Methink, someone should remind CAF bigwigs that events like the CAF Awards is purely a football and media one. It is not for politics or politicians. This was exactly the error that ruined African football under Hayatou. He mixed football, business, politics and to a large extent religion. He got himself trapped. He was caught in the web. This brought the sport a stunted growth even as he claimed that under his watch football in the continent competed with European football.
Politics was the major factor that polarized the continent's sport and destroyed the CAF Awards under Hayatou. Voters, talking about national team coaches and captains voted on Francophone and Anglophone lines which on few occasions robbed potential winners of their awards thus making the awards very incredible, totally controversial and highly ridiculous. Talent, skill, finesse, determination, doggedness, sheer power and brilliance which made the African sport thick were kicked into touch thus allowing racial talks, polarization thoughts, religious thrusts and other divisive tendencies to reign in the course of shortlisting nominees and voting. Average players became winners and real talents became losers. The world mocked at Africa for elevating mediocrity and sacrificing talents. CAF was once accused of persuading and inducing voters to vote for nominees or candidates with Francophone background or nationalities. This allegation was not probed or investigated by the Hayatou administration.
One would have thought that Ahmad will use the Accra awards to make a big, brilliant and bold statement. But that didn't happen as the awards once again was poorly put together with amatuerish experience and political coloration. Where are the legends who made the continent proud with the game? Sure, we saw same faces who are "friends of CAF". They are patronised by CAF on account of their FAs involvement in the emergence of the present leadership. Other great names of the sport in Africa recognized by UEFA and FIFA whose presence would have added value to the event were not invited because their FAs supported Hayatou in the election that ushered in Ahmad. This kind of thinking, reasoning and attitude won't take Africa's football anywhere.
We recently witnessed the prestigious Balon d'Or awards and we saw how footballers past and present were honoured and celebrated. The glamour added by the full media presence made it a show of class which the world looks up to each year. It is to football what Grammy Award is to music. It is an event showcasing the bond between football and media as the paparazzis were everywhere getting those 'frontpage and wonder' shots with reporters conducting exclusive interviews with football greats past and present. That award was an evening of grace, goodness and glory. We saw Pele, Maradona, Zidane, Ronaldo de Lima, Roberto Carlos, Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar to mention a few.
The award is for stars of football, their friends, agents, managers, associates and family members. The event is to talk and celebrate football....strictly football. 
In Accra, ex-presidents, Sports Ministers and governors of African countries took the centre stage. They took the front row, sitting conviniently as if they are the nominees. It was a show of African traditional lengthy but empty speeches from leaders without better ideas to improve or salvage the degenerating situation of diseases, wars, terrorism, sit-tight-leaders and corruption ravaging the continent. Their presence gave the event a sour taste. Their presence gave the event a knock. Their presence dwarfed the real essence of the event as attention was shifted to them rather than the players.

Truth be told, the CAF Awards has lost its importance. One can only hope that it's sponsor does not go the way the previous sponsors went.
TAG