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Caf's deafening silence sits uneasily

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Piers Edwards | 14:00 UK time, Saturday, 23 October 2010

Known for its durability and ability to withstand the ravages of time, the Iroko is one of the most famous trees in Nigeria.

When the Sunday Times broke the cash-for-World-Cup-votes allegations, Fifa executive committee member Amos Adamu's critics in Nigeria reacted with glee, with some talking about how this previously-untouchable 'human Iroko' was finally about to fall.

Adamu, who has denied any wrongdoing in the scandal, is a controversial figure in Nigeria where many lay much of the blame for the country's sporting woes at his door.

"Amos Adamu is not well-liked in Nigeria and people are happy he is getting his comeuppance," says Colin Udoh, editor of popular Nigerian website kickoff.com.

"People blame him for many problems inflicted on Nigerian football and see him more as a puppetmaster than as someone who should be running our game."

After his suspension by Fifa, Adamu's precarious position is reliant upon the strength of his legal defence.

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Amos Adamu told the BBC's Farayi Mungazi that he welcomed the Fifa investigation into the claims

But should the first Nigerian on Fifa's Executive Committee (Exco) retain his post, will he be able to play a part in voting for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts on 2 December- or will his position be deemed to have been compromised?

If he does stay, Fifa's critics will surely launch a further assault on the world governing body's credibility - a situation Sepp Blatter will be wary of ahead of standing for re-election as president next year.

But the Fifa chief could be a loser either way. African votes were key to bringing him to power in 1998 and 57-year-old Adamu wields great influence across the continent.

Should the world governing body's Ethics Committee come down on 57-year-old Adamu, it is possible both he and his vote would be 'suspended' since Fifa cannot fire Exco members and can only replace them at their next Congress, which will take place in May 2011 at the earliest.

How such a scenario would affect England's 2018 chances in December is unclear, but Adamu's anger with the Sunday Times might spread to his three African colleagues on Fifa's Executive Committee - in effect, both the messenger and England could be shot as crucial votes are lost.

As for 2022, it is mere speculation but several observers believe Africa may vote en bloc for Qatar, assuming the Arab country passes a Fifa inspection.

It is no secret that the Qataris sponsored the Confederation of African Football (Caf) Congress in Angola earlier this year, in a deal which angered their World Cup bidding rivals since it barred anyone but the tiny emirate from making a formal presentation or organising promotional events.

Those heady days of January were supposed to be the prelude to the greatest year in Africa's footballing history as the continent hosted the World Cup finals for the first time.

But the tragedy that saw two members of the Togolese delegation killed and Caf respond in draconian manner by barring Togo for subsequently withdrawing from the Nations Cup set a depressing administrative tone which has since been repeated.

Caf has refused to financially assist Togolese goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale, who is still unable to walk after being shot in the back in Angola - and in the last month, the hits have kept on coming.

First, there was the suspension of Nigeria's football federation, then a Togolese official sent a bunch of impostors to the Middle East to masquerade as the national team.

More worringly Zimbabwean FA officials were found guilty of involvement in a match-fixing scandal when the national team was sent out to lose.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times allegations prompted Fifa to suspend Tahiti's Reynald Temarii, president of the Oceania Football Confederation, Adamu and three other Africans, all of whom were former Exco members - Tunisia's Slim Aloulou, Mali's Amadou Diakite and Botswana's Ismael Bhamjee, (with the latter having left Fifa under a financial cloud in 2006).

"It's very embarrassing for African football," says Mark Gleeson, an expert analyst and correspondent on the continental game.

Amid all the embarrassment, Caf's silence has been deafening. There has been no official comment about Adamu nor, more pertinently, the now-proven scourge of match-fixing on the continent.

Isn't it about time someone in Caf - with its stated aim to 'improve football in Africa' - took some responsibility?

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    If england dont get the world cup there will be an outcry as we are so clearly the best option in terms of money making, filling the stadiums, facilities and travel.

    People keep saying we dont do enough behind the scenes pay offs and our media make us look bad so im not hopeful but something untoward will have to go on for us to be defeated.

    We are the smallest country thus easiest to move around and we could host the world cup next week pretty easily. We have all the stadiums and transport already in place.

 

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