Thursday , November 26 2020 12:36 pm


In exactly six months’ time, African football will be electing the people that will run its affairs for the next four years (2021 to 2025). It is always an interesting time for African football administrators who suddenly turn, overnight, to the beautiful brides of the continent that everyone wants to court.

Football federation presidents are the only ones who will, individually go into the ballot room, stand in front of the ballot box and put the name of their chosen candidate and slot it inside that box.

What this seemingly simple action does though, although is a single individual decision on who he (or she) wants in place, affects the future of millions of footballers across the continent and the livelihood of many.

We do not have a say in who these people choose. And most times, they do not consult with us on where they should pitch their tent and why.

What we have though, is the ability to share with our audience, some facts on who should not be allowed anywhere near the soon-to-be-vacant positions at the head of African football.

When we look at the scenario, we can see that Africa is not doing well. The potential that we showed at the tail end of the last century and at the start of this one has petered out because of bad administration. Such potential which we saw in some countries did not manifest because their leaders did not tap them properly.

In 2002, Lomana Tresor LuaLua was approached, having already played for England at youth level, to move to start to play for the Democratic Republic of Congo. Then, LuaLua was a player for English club Newcastle United.

Newcastle was alleged to have resisted all attempts to get him to switch his nationality but he made his mind up to make the switch and he became a DR Congo international later that year.

The year after though, Mr Constant Omari was elected President of the DR Congo Football Federation, at a time when the country’s football was on the up, attracting the likes of LuaLua to play for them, and playing some good football.

Omari is an imposing figure, tall and quite vocal. He literally talked his way, with a loud booming voice, into the good books of African football leadership gradually.

But on the home front, things were not looking so good.

Football in his native DR Congo began a steady but prominent decline from when he came in to take charge.

For starters, he was never there. He moved his entire family to the United States of America early on, and even he, through a mortgage that he fortuitously and dubiously obtained from French lenders, got his own property in Paris where he spent most of his time, and from where he operated and administered the affairs of football of his country.

Omari became a controversial figure everywhere. He had an agenda for everything. He was the hatchet man who was asked to use his voice to push through legislations and statute matters in African, and even world football. He had the voice, he had the stature, unfortunately not the finesse or charisma that should have gone with it.

In 2017 when the CAF elections were to hold in Addis Ababa, he parted ways with his long-time ally Ahmad, who he told/advised not to challenge the then incumbent Issa Hayatou. Ahmad defied him and pursued his own ambition to unseat the old man who had been in power for 29 years.

On the eve of the election though, Mr Omari was in meetings with his Hayatou camp when issues came up in relation to other candidates. He obviously felt belittled and at the last moment, ditched the Hayatou group, especially when it was looking clear that the challenge of his friend Ahmad was looking strong, and joined up with the latter.

It was a lucky move for him as Ahmad shocked the world, swept into power, and quickly Omari manipulated his way into being made Second Vice President.

Meanwhile, his health was fading, and so was the health of football in his native DR Congo. And so also was his standing in the face of the law, as he was subjected to criminal investigations on fraud and embezzlement charges.

Football in DR Congo is dying now.

We make reference to the case of LuaLua because we know that not long after LuaLua decided to be a DR Congo international, Omari became President of his country’s Federation, and LuaLua had quite a few issues with the administration of Omari which led to him pulling out of some games to prove his point.

It is unquestionable that if LuaLua was approached today to state whether he would have given his allegiance to DR Congo had Omari been in charge at the time, he would have said No, and would have been happier facing his club career than be involved with the things he went through under Omari, because LuaLua is a principled guy.

When football administrators are being touted, there is need to see what they were like on the home front before we decide to give them international accolade.

Internationally, Omari did not fare much better. He was always at the centre of everything negative and controversial in African football. He schemed his way into making sure that the statutes of the confederation were changed in 2012, to disqualify certain people from challenging his then boss Issa Hayatou.

In 2019, we all know the role he played in upstaging Nigerian Pinnick who was unceremoniously removed as First Vice President and had himself installed in Pinnick’s place.

African football needs to grow, and it must grow beyond the selfish interests of individuals who do not really care about the welfare of the average African footballer.

So while we cannot possibly canvas at this stage for who should be the next President of the CAF to replace the outgoing Ahmad, we surely would want to canvas for who should NOT be allowed anywhere near that seat.

Ahmad was not good for African football. The scandals were too much. It was a big stain on the integrity of Africa when we look at African football on Google, and we always see stories of fraud, embezzlement, inappropriate character, sexual harassment associated with the number one man in the continent’s football.

We should be getting an upgrade to such low standards, and Omari Constant cannot be that upgrade..

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