Dec 5, 2011, 1:43 PM
Alh Omar Sey, one of the longest-serving football icons on the continent’s governing body, has hailed CAF’s decision to adopt a new rule that allows only vote-wielding members of the executive committee to stand for the CAF presidency.
Sey, who is the current vice chairman of the Gambia Football Association (GFA) Normalizaion Committee and has been serving CAF since 1976, described the move as valid and going in the spirit of CAF.
The rule was adopted at a recent congress in Seychelles with forty-four nations voting for the amendment, which was proposed by Algeria, six nations voting against it and one abstaining.
The country’s sports icon, who served at the executive of CAF for 14 years before resigning to pursuing a career of politics, said: “For a member of the executive committee to be voted into the presidency has always existed in CAF for many years as far as I know. It’s not a rule and not in the constitution but it is a gentleman’s agreement. It was a gentleman’s agreement that anybody who should take over a CAF presidency must be within the executive and must have served and been tested in executing CAF policies and programmes before they take over.
“I don’t think there is anything unusual about it. My point is, the decision was taken by an overwhelming majority.”
Omar Sey was a first choice candidate for the CAF presidency ahead of Hayatou in 1988 but opted to go into politics when he returned to take up a ministerial appointment in The Gambia giving Hayatou to take over as president following a unanimous decision.
This rules out Anouma and South Africa’s 2010 World Cup organiser Danny Jordaan, and effectively leaves Hayatou to stand unopposed. But Anouma has refused to withdraw from the race.
Sey said: “The rule is not excluding any aspiring candidates for the CAF’s top spot, which is being hunted by many aspirants who are qualified for the position. The door to the executive is open for people to pass through for the position.
“Mr Anouma has a claim and has every right to contest.
Mr Sey, who returned to CAF when his political career came to a halt in 1994, says: “Criticisms are allowed but let us do it positively and not for individuals’ sake. There should be stability and calm movement within CAF. People should not throw criticisms against each other as that is not how CAF was being run; it is not healthy.”
He said Anouma’s strategy to criticize and describe the game in Africa as “being run like a fiefdom controlled by a village chief,” is an insult to all executive members of CAF who have made a big contribution to the development of football.
He calls on Mr Anouma to change his strategy and step back and see people who have contributed a lot to CAF to discuss the way forward.
“He has served Ivorian football and African football and was voted into FIFA by Africa. That shows that he has a place in African football.”
Reacting to Anouma’s claims that there should be a limited term in office, Mr Sey said: “That is acceptable provided it is allowed by the people that have the final say, but longevity has been a problem with governance all over the world. Hayatou has always been elected into office with vast majority since he took over.
“There is nothing wrong in giving Hayatou another mandate if he has done a lot for African football with his executive.”
He pointed out that the African Cup of Nations has registered great successes during his tenure and it is being hosted in every part of the continent.
African football is well recognised, he added, saying that the Africa club champion’s league “is second to the European champion’s league”.
“You have very competent and young people at CAF who could be very good leaders such as the likes of Kalusha Bwalya, Zambia FA president, Ghana, and others,” he noted.
Mr Sey, who has also served in FIFA and other committees at CAF, is now a member of the organizing committee of the Cup of Nations and also fully involved in CAF activities, in which he makes meaningful inputs of views, etc.
“I am offering my services and hand of friendship to Anouma to meet with elders who are there so that we can sit and discuss and engage with the CAF executive members on issues for the way forward of African football,” he said.
He cited that following good advise, the president of the South African football federation who also had similar issues later worked with Hayatou and others, which gave birth to South Africa hosting the best World Cup.
He says Anouma can become one of the executive members if he so wishes but the new rule cannot be challenged at the Court of Arbitration for Sport as it is a unanimous move and should be respected.
Anouma, whom he describes as a good gentleman, is one of Africa’s representatives on the Fifa executive committee by virtue of which he sits on Caf’s Executive Committee as an ex-officio member.
As an ex-officio member one is not directly elected by Caf’s General Assembly to sit on the Executive Committee and as such they do not have voting rights, but are free to participate in all the deliberations.
Commenting on the future of African football, he said: “There are bright prospects in Africa football. We have very bright young people, leaders who are coming up to push what has already been there. There are strategies that are coming up and we need brains to implement them. I think African football is going from strength to strength.”