Johannesburg - Newly elected president Ahmad Ahmad is clear – the days of cronies and nepotism in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) are over.
Speaking for the first time since he was elected last month, Ahmad told City Press on Friday that he envisaged an all-inclusive African organisation.
He said that it was not right for the organisation’s headquarters in Cairo to be dominated by people from Egypt and he believed that there were many people from various regions who could add value.
Ahmad visited the CAF headquarters last month for the first time as president of the organisation and said a few changes needed to be made.
“It is not enough what we have, but let us first implement our organogram and after that we can see what needs to be done. We have the expertise, but it is not enough. My programme is clear: personnel in CAF has to be increased in other countries, not only in Egypt. We must bring in the experts because, when you develop, you need all the cultures of the continent.”
He said the new CAF leadership would discuss a few issues when they meet next month. These include a controversial television rights deal and the timing of the staging of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournaments.
He has raised concerns over the 12-year television deal that his predecessor Issa Hayatou signed last year with France-based Lagardère Sports and Entertainment. He said they were studying the details of the controversial deal to decide on a way forward.
“Everyone has agreed that it is not a good contract and it is not good for African football.”
He said the contract was being reviewed by broadcast and marketing experts.
“The contract is the subject of a judicial challenge in Egyptian courts at the moment. We will investigate, but I am concerned about the length of the contract. I would never sign anything for longer than three years.”
With the timing of the Afcon tournaments a constant issue with European clubs, which are reluctant to release players because it is staged in the middle of their season, the president said they would discuss if there was a need to revise how often the tournament was held.
“I will be consulting with many stakeholders to discuss if there is a need to increase the amount of time between Afcons. This is the most important competition in Africa and the third most important in the world. I am ready to listen. I am not someone who will make decisions on my own. It is up to the people.”
Ahmad is a firm believer in development and said he would channel more efforts towards grass roots football. He said he would engage with universities and schools in this regard.
“For us to produce many good players, we need to go to school level and to villages to give them opportunities, because you don’t know where to get talent. Not only do we have to produce players, but we have to educate and protect our young people. If we want to develop the economy, we have to invest in young people as they are our future. Football has the power to develop our countries.”
He said he would strive to make women’s football a priority and said there was a lot of talent in Africa.
“We have to start somewhere – even Fifa has made women’s football its top priority.”