Posted: 3/20/2017


           I am fascinated by new stadiums and by their names. Far too many are boring such as Allianz, Etihad, Emirates and other sponsors naming rights, but how about this one - TEDDYBAREN-und-PLUSCH STADION. !! (Teddy Bear and Plusch Stadium). Austrian Bundesliga 2 club SC  Wiener Neustadt , Lower Austria, just south of Vienna, have secured a sponsorship deal with a soft toy manufacturer. Club CEO is Katja Putzenlechner. I can't wait to visit soon.

           It was in 1960 on a three month tour of Southern Africa that then British Prime Minister Harald Macmillan made an historic speech to the South African Parliament in Cape Town.

      " A wind of change is blowing through this continent. Whether we like it ot not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact."

          I made my first of 4 visits to South Africa in late 1993 when aparteid had been defeated, Nelson Mandella had been elected President, but had not yet taken office. Since then the national rugby union team has hosted and won the William Webb Ellis World Cup and SAFA  hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2010 but failed to advance passed the first round. 

            There was a definite WIND OF CHANGE taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last week with the election of a new CaF (Confederation of  African Football). CaF was founded on February 8, 1957 at the Grand Hotel in Khartoum, Sudan with Egypt, Somalia, Ethiopia, South African and Sudaneses FA's as founder members 60 years ago. For half its existance, since 1988,  ISSA HAYADOU of Cameroon has been in charge. He was toppled at the Addis Ababa convention by AHMAD AHMAD of Madagascar, that island nations's FA President since 2003. He was a former player and coach in its top division. He then entered politics as sport then fisheries minister and then a parliamentary senator. He now goes by the singular name of AHMAD. !!

         Hayadou was a former sprinter for Cameroon and in 2012 oversaw a rule change to keep out an opponent for his job by stating that only a CaF ExCo could stand for office.  Ahmed won by 34-20 and swept away the old guard. The new man wants greater transparency and the use of the large CaF bank balance for the development of football in all the member nations, and not just kept in the bank at the CaF HQ in Cairo. It was soon announced that CaF had a balance of $108 million and $131 million in equity.

         CaF signed a deal worth $1 billion with a French agency LAGARDERE from 2017-2028 which might be at odds with the new presidents openness and desire for shorter deals with more open competition. A new 8 year deal was announced with energy company TOTAL worth $190 million. Ahmad, who now only uses one name, has pleased his supporters by stating that they would now be able to buy BUSINESS CLASS travel and be remunerated.

         It is so expensive for teams to travel around the African continent that teams are selected for the two major nation tournaments, the African Cup of Nations and the FIFA World Cup and then stood down, unlike UEFA nations with more TV and other commercial income and less expensive internal travel. I have suggested on numerous occasions that I would like to see CaF reduced to Sub Saharan countries and North African countries formed in a new confederation with Middle East members who would leave the Asian Federation.

           Hayadou has been charged, along with the CaF General Secretary Hicham El Amrani, by the Egyptian Competitions Authority for signing the Lagardere deal with an anti-monopoly charge. Prior to the election there was a gathering of Ahmad supporters at a dinner in Harare, Zimbabwe hosted by his campaign manager Phillip Chiyangwa, the ZIFA President and also President of COSAFA, the Confederation of Southern African Football Associations. Also at the meeting was FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who is still sore that Hayatou campaigned against him at the last FIFA election.

            Another supporter and Kingmaker at the meeting  was SAFA President DANNYJORDAAN, the Port Elizabeth born South African politician, now Nelson Mandela Bay executive mayor. He is now a CaF Exco as is the only female president of an African Football Association Isha Johansen of Sierra Leone.

          The tiny spice island of ZANZIBAR has also been given full membership status of CaF. In 1964 Zanzibar joined Tanganyika to form TANZANIA . One of my former high school class mates went to Zanzibar every vacation to join his dad who was captain of The Sultan of Zanzibar's yacht and brought back a football programme of a national team match. I prized it for many years and then lost it.

   CaF now has 54 full members , the same as UEFA.