Finally leagues across Europe are breathing a sigh of relief, after CAF executive committee announced on Thursday that AFCON competition will move from January to July. Change of period is effective for the next tournament to be hosted by Cameroon in two years’ time, and it will be expanded to 24 teams instead 16.

Africa’s premier biennial football tournament AFCON has been customarily hosted in January and February, causing major difficulties for coaches and league’s across Europe. The tournament timing has always put a strain between clubs and players, having some teams refusing to release their players during January, as this is a peak period for European teams vying for championship in their respective domestic leagues. Clubs are always unwilling to let key players go for at least 30 days or so during peak time.

The change of dates is to be in sync with the European season, to avoid matters of club vs country which plagued the tournament in recent years resulting in countries sending second string squads, due to unavailability of players because the competition fell outside FIFA sanctioned dates.
Bravo the quality of football at AFCON is surely going to improve, which ultimately means more revenue from sponsors, fans will flock to the stadiums in numbers and that’s a great picture for television.

Believe it or not most foreign leagues are dominated by star African footballers, and this clubs pay astronomical amounts of money in salaries to these players to ply their duties and win them bragging rights with trophies. For instance at this years AFCON out of 368 players that were involved 64% ply their trade in Europe, 28% in Africa followed by Asia (28%) and the Americas (1%).

Liverpool dealt a major blow towards their tittle race when manager Jürgen Klopp was forced to omit Cameroonian Joel Matip from match teams in run up to the hotly contested EPL race fearing a possible FIFA ban. Joel Matip had been called up for the Indomitable Lions team to feature at AFCON 2017.
Matip claimed to have retired from international footballing matters, however as per FIFA rules, he should have submitted documents to his respective FA to inform them.

FIFA ruling states that “any divergent agreement between a player and a club is prohibited,” though that “associations wishing to call up a player who is playing abroad must notify the player in writing at least 15 days before the day of the match for which he is required.

“The player’s club shall also be informed in writing at the same time. The club must confirm the release of the player within the following six days.
“Should he wish not to be called up for a certain match or matches or for a certain period of time, he must inform the association of which he is a national, in writing, of his intention before being called up.

“Furthermore, only the player himself is entitled to renounce representing his national team. This declaration shall be submitted by the player to the association concerned in writing.”
Cat fights of this nature are never to be seen again, player will be more willing to represent their countries without jeopardising club football commitments.

Wings of change are creeping in within CAF executive committee led by President Ahmad Ahmad. His stance to change the status quo at CAF is beginning to bear fruit, however there’ still a long way to go turn the wheel completely around. Next on CAF exco agenda is to bring AFCON TV rights back to the motherland, we have broadcasters such as SABC, Supersport et al that are equal to the task of being the tournament to every citizen of Africa.



The Confederation Africaine de Football (CAF) recalls that, among the principles underlying the fundamental values of Olympism, is the need for all stakeholders in sport in general and football in particular, players, clubs, national associations and confederations to respect strict neutrality and independence, particularly at the political level, within the framework of the sporting events in which they participate.

The guarantee of respect for these principles of neutrality and independence is part of the statutory missions of CAF and FIFA, as well as the obligations of member associations.

Certain inadequate behaviours in this respect have recently been noted by representatives of certain Clubs and National Teams competing in CAF competitions.

Such behaviour has no place in a sports competition. CAF calls on the relevant stakeholders for reason to prevail, regardless of their sensitivities, and stresses that it will be particularly vigilant as regards respect for these principles of neutrality and independence in all future games played under its aegis.

Particular attention of all Organising Committees for CAF Competitions, including the CAF Organising Committee for Interclub Competitions, as well as the Match Commissioners and General Coordinators, has been drawn specifically to these issues.

The Match Commissioners and General Coordinators will make the necessary findings and reports, while the relevant Organising Committees will take appropriate sanctions in accordance with the applicable regulations.



No more gaffes? Football Technology Is Here.

Nestor Pitana

FIFA Confederation Cup Russia 2017 got off to a wobbly start. This quadrennial football event is usually used as a precursor tournament barely a year before the highly prized World Cup finals is hosted in a particular country.  As such this tournament seeks to assess the host’s readiness and ability in terms of infrastructure, logistics et al to stage football’s ultimate flagship event.

Apart from logistics and other critical elements that are put to the test, we saw in this year’s tournament technology being put through a litmus test as well.  The introduction of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) has been a matter of controversy amongst football fans around the globe. What is this VAR?

VAR is an association football assistant referee that reviews decisions made by the head referee with the use of video footage and a headset for communication. VARs are not currently part of the Laws of the Game, but their use is currently being trialled by the International Football Association Board in a number of different competitions. (Source Wikipedia).

Let’s rewind to last night Group B encounter between Portugal and Mexico. In the 21st minute the Portuguese side took a lead through defender Pepe, only for the goal to be disallowed after a contentious video review.  Shortly after the goal was scored, the Argentine referee Nestor Pitana called for a video assisted review, which ultimately ruled that the Real Madrid defender had in fact been in an offside position.

The controversy continued well into the second match which pitted Chile against the African champions Cameroon.

At the stroke of half time Chilean striker Eduardo Vargas thought he had scored his first goal of the tournament, however it wasn’t the case… After some ponderings the goal in question was not given, as ruled offside AGAIN.

Football is a natural sport, which is characterized by critical conversation stemming out of controversial decisions made by the referee. The introduction of video assisted reviews makes it hard for the game to flow naturally. We see stop/start situations that tends to slow down the match flow.  I say NO to video assisted decision making in football this is not cricket or rugby.  We need to engage and dissect these controversial decisions long after regular 90 minute, that’s what football is all about.  YES to goal line technology by all means.

With VAR you can only challenge things that are not given. What about those that are given under dubious manner? New things have been introduced in the game, but this has to be the most controversial decision to be implemented in the modern day football.

Another school of thought might say VAR is good for the game; it will bring back integrity to the sport. At what cost?

As the saying goes “to improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often”….definitely time will take its course as we forge ahead to accept VAR as part of our new football control measures.

A dear friend of mine wrote on Facebook “It’s OK brother we will get used to it….it is more like putting on a condom” Oooops I nearly fell off my sofa…

The Legendary match commentator Peter Drury summed it up with this words: “Well this are new scenarios in world football, we have to embrace it”…




After months of courting big name coaches in football to take over the hot Bafana head coach seat vacated by the analogue Shakes Mashaba, Dr Danny Jordan led SAFA seems to have found their man.

In a well-documented junket that took Dr Jordan from Pretoria to Zambia and Iran in an attempt to lure the man entrusted with the future of South African football.  The man chosen to take charge of our national team obviously was not SAFA’s first choice.  Believe it or not, Carlos Queiroz led rumour mill and a lot of bookmakers channelled all their bets towards former Manchester United No 2 taking charge at Bafana.  It looked as if though a deal has been struck until the Iranian FA pull the rug underneath and demanded at least R20m for Queiroz signature, a staggering amount SAFA could not afford during this depressing economic time.

Quickly the spotlight fell onto French man Herve Renard, who led both Ivory Coast and Zambia winning AFCON tournaments in recent times.  Amongst the shortlisted coaches, Renard came out tops regarding his experience on the African continent but was always going to come second to Quieroz who’s perceived to be close to SAFA president Dr Danny Jordan.  Renard even wrote a letter to SAFA, just to show he’s equally interested in the vacant position.   Discussions took place, however, both parties couldn’t reach an agreement.  Our deep throat mole tells us, SAFA and Renard couldn’t agree on a key issue that the latter wanted to bring along his own technical and back office staff to South Africa.  In a country where unemployment is sitting at more than 20%, it was a no-brainer that SAFA would kick that idea into the ocean, fearing public backlash.

Fast forward SAFA has finally settled for none other than Mr Stuart Baxter, currently in charge of Supersport United.  Baxter enjoyed success with Soweto outfit Kaizer Chiefs in the domestic league. What is more interesting is that both Baxter and Queiroz are return soldiers to Bafana.  The Englishman got fired from his Bafana role after failing to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany. By the look of things we have pinned our hopes on Baxter to deliver us to 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, and the road will not be an easy one.

There’s just one sticking point before Baxter finally signs on the dotted line.  He wants to bring along his son Lee, to be part of the technical team as a goalkeeper coach.  Remember Renard story above? SAFA head honchos are at a tight corner on this, and the likely hood of acceding to Baxter’s demands is highly possible. However, they will have to justify this kind of set up, to the unforgiving South Africans, on top of the purported R1m monthly paycheck to be hand over to this man.  In a South African context, this may be seen as direct nepotism.

The practice of coaches bringing their own staff is being done throughout the world, where one wants to work with people that fully understand his philosophy and get the best of out his players.  Success or non-success thereof lies with the coach and his own technical team. He’s fully accountable.

Now, why is this phenomenon not allowed in South Africa especially in the national team?

I guess the answer lies with the fact that, the experienced coach must exercise skills transfer to a team of assistant coaches, which SAFA allocate to work with him.  In lieu of stabilising the team, SAFA should allow Baxter to bring along a certain number of staff into the team whether they’re related or not.  This is football, we need results. We want to book our ticket to Russia at all cost.

Bureau of the Council recommends slot allocation for the 2026 FIFA World Cup™

The Bureau of the FIFA Council – comprised of the FIFA President and the presidents of each of the six confederations – convened this Thursday at the Home of FIFA in Zurich and agreed on a proposed slot allocation for the FIFA World Cup™ as of the 2026 edition.

The recommendation will now be submitted for the ratification of the FIFA Council, whose next meeting is scheduled for 9 May in Manama, Bahrain, two days prior to the 67th FIFA Congress.

After 10 January, when the FIFA Council unanimously decided on expanding the FIFA World Cup to a 48-team competition, FIFA, the confederations and the member associations engaged in a consultation process, which resulted in the proposal recommended by the Bureau of the Council. According to this proposal, the split of direct berths is as follows:

Slot allocation*

·         AFC: 8 direct slots

·         CAF: 9 direct slots

·         CONCACAF: 6 direct slots

·         CONMEBOL: 6 direct slots

·         OFC: 1 direct slot

·         UEFA: 16 direct slots

* The host country would also automatically qualify for the FIFA World Cup, and its slot would be taken from the quota of its confederation. In the event of co-hosting, the number of host countries to qualify automatically would be decided by the FIFA Council.

Play-off tournament for two remaining slots
The above allocation accounts for 46 of the 48 participating teams. The proposal reviewed by the Bureau of the Council includes a play-off tournament involving six teams to decide the last two FIFA World Cup berths:

–          One team per confederation with the exception of UEFA + one additional team from the confederation of the host country;

–          Two teams to be seeded based on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. The seeded teams will play for a FIFA World Cup berth against the winners of the first two knockout games involving the four unseeded teams;

–          Tournament to be played in the host country(ies) and to be used as a test event for the FIFA World Cup;

–          Existing play-off window of November 2025 suggested as tentative date for the 2026 edition.




Media rights for sub-Saharan Africa awarded by FIFA

ZURICH, Switzerland – FIFA has granted media rights to five major broadcasting entities in the sub-Saharan Africa region for all 2017-2018 FIFA events, after an open tender process for 42 territories*, launched on 21 October 2016. This includes the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The following broadcasters have been awarded certain media rights with regard to the 2018 FIFA World Cup:

  • Econet Media, by way of free-to-air and pay-TV transmission for exploitation in all territories of sub‑Saharan Africa except South Africa.
  • Supersport, by way of pay-TV transmission for exploitation in all territories of sub‑Saharan Africa.
  • SABC, by way of free-to-air transmission for exploitation in South Africa.
  • StarTimes, by way of pay-TV transmission for exploitation in all territories of sub-Saharan Africa except South Africa.
  • CANAL+, by way of pay-TV transmission for exploitation in all territories of sub-Saharan Africa except South Africa and Nigeria.

The following broadcasters have been awarded certain media rights with regard to other 2017‑2018 FIFA events:

  • Econet Media, by way of free-to-air and pay-TV transmission for exploitation in all territories of sub-Saharan Africa except South Africa.
  • Supersport, by way of pay-TV transmission for exploitation in all territories of sub‑Saharan Africa;
  • SABC, by way of free-to-air transmission for exploitation in South Africa.
  • StarTimes, by way of pay-TV transmission for exploitation in all territories of sub-Saharan Africa (except the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 in South Africa).

The 2017-2018 FIFA events comprise: FIFA U-20 World Cup 2017; FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017; FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2017; FIFA Confederations Cup 2017; FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2018; FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2018; 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The outcome of this tender process enables FIFA to reach its aim of securing the widest possible coverage across the region with the highest profile matches available on a free-to-air basis. By working together with reliable partners in the region, FIFA will make sure that football fans have access to a high-quality viewing experience for each of the FIFA events, including by way of digital platforms.

“We are delighted to work with our appointed broadcast partners in the sub-Saharan region to allow millions of fans to enjoy each of FIFA’s various events across a multitude of platforms,” said FIFA’s chief commercial officer Philippe Le Floc’h.

*The 42 territories are: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Congo DR, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.




CAF Ides Of March


“I think many things have to change in African football”, Ahmad Ahmad a man on quest to unseat the current CAF President Issa Hayatou at the helm of African football.

“We need change in refereeing, officiating, the way we train our coaches. We can’t organise a coaching licence course in 15, 10 days. The certificate is just to help you get a work. Our technical development must change”

In what promises to be tightly contested CAF election, that will pit Ahamd Ahmad Head Of Madagascar and African football blue-blood Issa Hayatou the incumbent CAF president in modern times.  This battle will surely ignite some sparks throughout the Ethiopian capital city Addis Ababa on March 16, and send shockwaves to the football fraternity across the globe no matter the outcome.

Issa Hayatou, a Cameroonian national has been at the helm of African football since 1987. Issa’s campaign to cling onto power experienced more pitfalls than any notable successes.  He’s faced with a mammoth task to try and convince the masses of African faithful’s, that he still has the girth to take Africa football  to the Promised Land. However it seems as if the once feared figure in African football is losing his tight grip at the top, whilst his peers are running for cover by not wanting to be on the wrong side of history.

Notably his fellow countrymen the legendary footballer Samuel Eto’o Fils has also raised his voice for changes at CAF.

“No institution resists the laws of cycles and change. I just hope that these changes will help African football to evolve, because it is the most important,” said Eto’o

“The development of CAN has improved infrastructure, and that is important. But the main beneficiaries of these changes must be players, especially those in Africa.

“The Caf is at a certain level of financial income. It is respected, within FIFA for example.”

To make matters worse even Cameroon President Paul Biya spurned an opportunity to link up with Hayatou in a bid to get support ahead of the polls.  Hayatou is against the ropes even his trusted cadres from the Francophone faction cannot guarantee him success.  COSAFA which commonly represents a lot of FA’s under the Anglophone umbrella have come out to support Ahmed Ahmed as a voice for change to take over CAF.

CAF leadership under the stewardship of Issa Hayatou have overstayed their welcome, and there’s a serious need of a new vibrant voice of change.  Ahmad promises to be that innovator the African football fraternity are looking for to steer the ship.  Even though Madagascar is not a great footballing nation, and haven’t featured much in major African tournaments such as Champions League and Afcon, they remain a force to be reckoned with in terms of football administration.

Our dear friend FIFA president Gianni Infantino seems to fiddling around in this hotly contested battle, he made no bone of revealing his preferred candidate going into this election.  It’s all about change, we want change whispered Gianni.  I can safely say Hayatou’s fate seemed to written all over the walls within FIFA’s House in Zurich.

As the head of FIFA, Gianni Infantino is on a warpath in a bid to clean off the sport, of course this formed a key part of his manifesto to assume office.  Getting rid of Hayatou is surely the last great coup in his quest to clean up football, and also putting a final nail in the coffin of the FIFA old boys club comprised of Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini.  The persistence association with ISL bribery allegations hanging over Hayatou’s head will not in no way assist him to extend the 30 year old regime for another term.

CAF is at a cross-road with a daunting task of choosing and betting on the right horse to win the coveted race.   At this point it looks certain that Ahmad is going to walk away it, on the same wavelength Issa Hayatou will not go down without a fight, and football is all what he knows.  This is the man who got schooled on matters of football politics and its manoeuvrings by the late former FIFA Honorary President Joao Havelange and the charismatic Sepp Blatter.

Is it the end of the road for Hayatou? I say write him off at your own peril.

Be that as it may CAF is heading for the much needed change.


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