|The man who SHOULD run CAF: Danny Jordaan and Nelson Mandela|
DANNY JORDAAN returned home from his abject electoral defeat in Morocco last month deeply disturbed by what he saw at the Confederation of African Football elections in Marrakesh – and bitterly regretting he represents a nation labelled “English-speaking”.
Jordaan, shockingly beaten to a four-year term on the CAF executive by the mysterious Madagascar FA President known only as Ahmad, has every reason to feel aggrieved.
Jordaan is a former SAFA CEO who successfully organised Africa’s first World Cup in South Africa in 2010. He is close to FIFA president Sepp Blatter and has a “great working relationship” with spokesman Jerome Valcke.
Born in Port Elizabeth, he has a strong record as an anti-apartheid activist who was banned and harried by the Apartheid regime. He also played provincial cricket and football before moving in to administration where he led the Cape Town Olympic bid before moving in to SAFA’s highest ranks.
And this bloke Ahmad? FIFA admit they have “no further information” about the man. Not even his full name. There is simply nothing about the Madagascar FA he runs ANYWHERE. But I can tell you that, under his guidance, Madgascar are currently 188th in the FIFA world rankings, their lowest ever, after losing to Equatorial Guinea in the 2014 World Cup preliminary qualifiers. They are also 47th out of the 54 African nations, just behind Swaziland. Hardly a powerhouse, hardly a great recommendation for Ahmad.
Danny and I go back quite a way. He’s told me some of his apartheid stories and any suggestion he is not the perfect man to run CAF is laughable. I launched in with: Defeat against Madagascar?! He shrugged: “We had an agreement the position on the CAF executive wouldn’t go to one of the islands, but it did. COSAFA is mostly English and Portuguese speaking but now we have two French speaking representatives.
"When I got to Marrakesh, Michael Platini (the famous Frenchman who covets Blatter’s hot seat as head of FIFA) had been there two days. He was there for another day after I left.
“I don’t think you must personalise it. Any South African would be seen as a threat to the President. People know when they come to South Africa they will have the environment and infrastructure to play under the best conditions.
“They appreciate that. But it is the other interests, the ones which cannot be balanced with the real interests of football.
“In the north, it’s worse. The French dominate. It sets a precedent. It’s not fair representation. It’s a question of leadership. It doesn’t make sense. These are issues we have to discuss.
|The Francophone nations: from Wikimedia.org|
“When you look at Southern Africa, the election outcome goes against the agreement we had. It is only in the interests of those who want to pursue a particular path for football in Africa and at FIFA. Those are things I don’t want to talk about.
“South Africa’s role is appreciated, we mustn’t think we’re not wanted on the continent. We must simply understand it’s all about the next CAF president, the next FIFA president.“
“Platini had it all wrapped up. He stands for the French-speaking nations, that is his powerbase. Now 83 percent of the CAF executive is Francophone.
“Just ask Nigeria. Their guy lost to Moucharafou Anjorin from Benin who had just come out of jail after six months. But he’s loyal to Issa Hayatou and the “big five” French speaking nations in CAF.”
It was Anjorin who lashed out at English FA Chairman David Bernstein at the 2011 FIFA elective congress in Zurich when the English asked for a postponement before Blatter’s re-election.
Anjorin was jailed for several months last year amid allegations of “financial impropriety over missing sponsorship funds” but had no problem getting onto the CAF executive ahead of Nigeria, crowned the
African Cup of Nations champions in South Africa a month before.
Then there’s war-torn Mali's Amadou Diakite, whose ban from "all football activities" ended on October 20th 2012. He bounced back with an incredible 35 out of a possible 54 votes to take his four-year term on the executive.
Jordaan admits: “All English-speaking candidates lost, Platini and Hayatou saw to that. I have to look beyond Hayatou – I think some were worried if I got on the excutive, I might be the next president, and I’m not French!
“I spoke to David Dein from England. The truth is the English, who invented the game and run the best-watched league in the world, now have NO SAY AT ALL over what happens in football.
“Platini is ensuring the influence of the English-speaking nations is non-existent. And South Africa is paying the price for that.
“The only way out of it I can see is for the Commonwealth to become a footballing body. To act as a voting bloc at FIFA. Perhaps then our voice will be heard. That would united the English-speaking nations. But right now the Commonwealth countries do not deal with football and the sport doesn’t feature in the Commonwealth Games.
“CAF elections, sadly, have nothing to do with the good of football. They are for power and money. That is the truth.
"Morocco is history now. But change is coming in FIFA and CAF, I'm confident that we will have a excuitive member in CAF by 2015."
South Africa’s only representative at CAF executive level is former school teacher and SAFA official Molefi Oliphant, a co-opted member who rarely raises his head above the parapet.
Jordaan is not alone in his discontent, Safa executive member Buti Lerefolo, in Marrakesh as an observer, said: “It was not only South Africa, but Nigeria was also marginalised. We were sabotaged. Africa did not vote for us and all we could hear were whispers that South Africa has a lot of money.”
A dossier suggesting South Africa post-World Cup corruption re-emerged in Morocco and after initially coming out in support of their man, SAFA president Kirsten Nematandani issued a brown-nosed statement saying: “We have no doubt they will take our confederation to new heights and we look forward to working with the Caf executive committee to improve the sport on the continent.
"We are grateful for the support shown by our sister federations for SA's candidate."
Confused? So am I. Jordaan says: “The Arabic countries have too much power, the Francophile nations hold sway. Something has to be done.
“Our job is to help develop the game, the under 15, the referees, the facilities. That’s where my heart lies. We have to get away from these political discussions.
“The challenges are backing Bafana, backing the game in Africa. We must distinguish between what is real and what is done for political purposes.
“To have documents that are faceless and nameless, designed to smear people? That must stop. Let’s go face-to-face. Give reasons, this dossier – it’s an insult to call it that – is not right. For the good of this country, we don’t want the world to sit back and shake their heads.
“We must retain our integrity. We have global support.”
A shorter version of this story will appear as my Neal and Pray story in www.thenewage.co.za on Tuesday.