How to fix CAF’s regional bias

I can understand if no one hears me because many are still mourning. Their crying drowns my cry of salutation. And so no one hears. No one can hear. It is to this funereal atmosphere that I returned on Monday from the sun, sand and sea of the Caribbean, this atmosphere of the region in mourning and our sporting flags flying at half-mast. Our own brothers, is that not always the case that it is often a brother, had done us in. The continental soccer-governing body, CAF, had thrown out the bids from Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe, to host the 2010 edition of the African Cup of Nations. Thrown out the bids at first reckoning! Or perhaps they are not our brothers? From the initially promising southern African package from whence we felt any bid picked would be a winner, only Angola survived to see the final stage with a joint bid from Equatorial Guinea and Gabon and separate efforts from Libya and Nigeria. My brother, now that one is my brother, Robson Sharuko dealt with the matter at great length last week. I came back to regional mourning’and Robson’s report. Just a repeat: 11 hosts so far from North Africa where Caf is headquartered. Nine, and 10 in 2008, from West Africa- region of Caf President Issa Hayatou’s native Cameroon. Elsewhere? Elsewhere is nowhere. East Africa a paltry three times. But you have to go back to 1976 to see the last time that was. Continental soccer bosses, my foot! And that is the only part of the anatomy I can refer to on the spur of the moment. Remember this is a family newspaper, and you are reading a family column. Southern Africa? I have told you before, my friends, cry for the beloved continent. Only one, read again ‘ one ‘ African Cup of Nations tournament has ever been held here. And they did not even win the bid because the tournament was set for Kenya but they were not going to be ready on time and so it came here. Default, not design, comrades. They did not have that much option either, as that was in the heady days of South Africa being the latest African baby. You know how we rejoice over births in Africa. Just as much as we mourn over deaths. And we mourned for the deaths of three bids. Cup, yes. Nations, yah, from up there. African? Definitely not. More “Some African Regions”. But I read the next page of The Southern Times. Next page, Mr Banda? Well, well, all this mourning must have left your heads reeling. Remember, I have said in the past that I read the paper backwards. Not like Arabic or some such! Backwards’from the last page inwards. Backwards! OK, OK, we are not children. We understand what you are saying. Proceed with your story. Alright, my friends. I continued reading inwards, you know, backwards. Hey, hey, Mr Banda! OK, I continued reading inwards and then came to the article by my brother ‘ yeah, he is really my brother that one and would not spurn my painstakingly prepared bid for other considerations or lack of ‘ Paul Munyuki: “Dunlop Challenge Rally set.” The 43rd version of the rally will be at the Donnybrook Park Raceway in the Zimbabwe capital, Harare, on the 23rd of next month. It is set to be a veritable international event with teams expected from Belgium, Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia. Eight countries! The Dunlop Zimbabwe Challenge Rally has cred. You know, credibility. It is on circuit. It is part of the FIA African Rally Championship. FIA? Now, you too must have been affected by the mourning, Mr Banda. Every time you give us the full version with the abbreviation in brackets, before you use the shortened form. FIA? OK, let me explain. Two organisations govern the world of motorsport. They are the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), now that is more like you, Mr Banda! As I was saying before you interrupted me ‘ which you are wont to do ‘ there are two governing bodies. One of them is FIA, which looks at all matters concerning all forms of automobile sport. And so, for example, the Commission Internationale de Karting (CIK) is part of the FIA. The other body is the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), under whose auspices fall all categories of motorcycling. So we have said that the Dunlop Zimbabwe Challenge Rally is a leg of the FIA African Rally Championship. It is also part of the Zimbabwe national rally championship and the Zim-Zam Series of reciprocal rally activity between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Paul’s article got me thinking. We are not getting anywhere with Caf. In fact, we are going nowhere with Caf. We are going nowhere ‘ fast! Let us get together, sportspeople of the region, and look at those disciplines such as motorsport. Let us dedicate ourselves to excelling in them. Let us organise lucrative tournaments that will be the envy of our colleagues elsewhere. Like up there, for example. So we have this major, this big, this big major motorsport tournament and those from there come down and beseech us as their brothers to share with them this tournament. They also want to have it up there. And we say no. But we do not say it like that. We cannot say it like that. It is not in the manner of us, the people of the way. Further we cannot organise a bidding process that we fix. It is not in us to do that. We will have it written in the founding document of our motorsport event that hosting will be by rotation. In the southern African region. Hallo, are you a member of the southern African community? Hallo’did you say “Yes”? Oh, “No”? You want to host the next Southern African Rally? Sorry, hosting is restricted to southern African countries only. Yes, there is bidding but only among the countries of the region. What? Sorry, I beg your pardon. The line is not clear. Oh, participation? No, anyone can compete. Yes, you can enter a team if you meet the qualifying times. Sorry, you are faint. We have an e-mail? No, not blackmail. Bidding is above board and so is the selection but only restricted to the region. Let me give you our website. Hallo, hallo? The line had gone dead. Like our bids.

May 2006
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