#Article (Archive)

Towards South Africa 2010 and Beyond

Jul 30, 2009, 7:46 AM

George Weah's call for former footballers to have a bigger role in football administration in Africa is timely and appropriate. In less than 24 months from now, the World Cup tournament will be hosted for the first time in Africa - in South Africa. All over the continent, the expectations are high because Africans would like to see a successful tournament as any that has been held before in other parts of the world. Africans are also pleased with the choice of South Africa because it is the most developed country on the continent. In every sense, South Africa has what it takes to host a successful tournament of that calibre.

Ideally, Africans would like to see an African team lift the coveted trophy at the final but football does not always work out that way. But it is important for the prospective African representatives to give a good account of themselves at the forthcoming tournament. So far, no African team has gone beyond the quarter final stage at the World Cup level - only Cameroon and Senegal have the honour of having gone that far. Or it would be a source of pride for the entire continent if this benchmark is exceeded.

This is the point that George Weah is making: African teams have the potential to take the lead position in global football because the talents are abundant. And at the individual level, African footballers plying their trade across Europe and North America are outstanding. Both Weah and Eto'o for example have been accorded some of the greatest honours in world football.

So the question is why these superb talents do not shine when they are assembled together as teams representing the continent at the highest level? The answer, as Weah seems to infer, is poor administration. "Football is being run as a comical circus needs to change - when we decide to do that, then we will restore respect to football and it will take a different trend in Africa," Weah said.

African football should be run by people who are truly committed to the game. And such people, in our opinion, are former footballers who know the game inside out. They would be able to empathize with footballers and formulate policies and programmes that would enhance their well being. This is what is happening in Europe and South America. Platini and Pele are some examples.

Considering the public relations benefits of football as well as its economic benefits, African governments should ponder the Weah formula for taking African football to the next level by appointing ex-African footballers to strategic administrative positions in their respective football associations.

It is not too late to put this policy in motion for 2010. The earlier they start, the better it will be for the continent as it warms to hosting the World Cup tournament for the first time in history. And it would also stand it in good stead for other future global tournaments.