I’ll keep it short this week. What happened to Orlando Pirates in the DRC on the weekend is shocking. TP Mazembe, their club officials, their players, their coaches, their fans and their country should be embarrassed. In fact, more than embarrassed, they should be ashamed of what took place.
What South Africa now knows is that this supposed giant of African club football isn’t a giant at all. This 90-minute fiasco throws into question everything they have ever won on the continent.
What’s more upsetting is the deafening silence from CAF on the matter. I often think it’s strange that we all support the European Champions League with such vigour, that we get exited about seeing Europe’s showpiece event, but our own African Champions League doesn’t command much attention. I now understand why. It’s a Mickey Mouse tournament run by a Mickey Mouse organisation. How can the president of CAF sit back and allow this to happen? This is a tournament that to a large extent defines his legacy. That defines African football! And yet the fat cat and his henchmen seem unperturbed, and choose rather to lie at the teat of African football and suckle away at the cream it produces.
I now understand why Danny Jordaan could not and will not ever get onto the CAF executive committee. They fear he would be a serious hindrance to the way CAF run things because he would want to do things the right way. He would want transparency. He would want good governance. He would demand accountability.
Instead CAF elect members to their committee who have previously been banned for bribery or who have previously been arrested for embezzlement of sponsorship money. It seems if you have jail time on your CV for corruption or stealing, then that’s a great start for breaking into the inner circle of CAF. CAF - Castrating African Football one game at a time - that’s what the acronym should really stand for. And this is clearly reflected in how poorly we do on the world stage as a continent.
CAF will more than likely point out how many Youth World Cups we have won and how well Africa has done at the Olympic soccer tournaments. Yes, we have done well at youth tournaments. Why? Because we allow age-cheating! Duh! When CAF allows member countries to send players in their 20s to teenage tournaments, we should win! When CAF allows TP Mazembe to treat Orlando Pirates and no doubt many other clubs the way we were treated on the weekend, TP Mazembe should win!
What TP Mazembe were allowed to get away with allows us South Africans to see what it takes to win on the continent. If I’m Egypt, I’m furious with CAF! The success of TP Mazembe is now tarnished and automatically we South Africans start wondering what other countries have done to dominate the CAF Champions League and African club football.
Al-Ahly, an Egyptian giant of African football, referred to sometimes as the ‘African Club Team of the Century’… right now I’m starting to wonder if this should not read, ‘African Cheats of the Century’? And quite possibly they haven’t ever cheated, but because of what TP Mazembe got away with, that’s how I feel.
Ghana’s Asante Kotoko, I’m not afraid of what they can do on the field, I’m terrified of what they might have to do off of it to be so successful. That CAF have allowed TP Mazembe to blindfold a country (refuse any TV coverage or radio coverage to South Africa), march us into their stadium and subject us to the dog show that transpired on the weekend… is as close to football terrorism as it gets in my books.
Now if CAF read this, they will brush it aside, simply saying, don’t bring us allegations, bring us proof. Well, if I’m standing outside a burning house, and a policeman passes by and I tell him that the house is burning down, would he dismiss me and say, “Don’t make allegations, bring me proof!”