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Nations Cup: 2019, 2012 and shock 2023 hosts unveiled by Caf
September 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

_74351486_130983651Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Guinea were named as future hosts of the Africa Cup of Nations by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) on Saturday.

A vote of the executive committee, meeting in the Ethiopian capital, awarded Cameroon the 2019 finals and Ivory Coast will stage the 2021 edition.

In an unscheduled announcement Caf also decided to hand Guinea the right to host the 2023 finals.

Algeria and Zambia lost out in the bidding process.

The Democratic Republic of Congo had withdrawn from the race two months ago.

Cameroon, who will stage the tournament in 2019 previously staged the Nations Cup in 1972. Cameroon’s bid was centred around four venues in Bafoussam, Douala, Garoua and Yaounde.

Ivory Coast, awarded the 2021 edition, are also former hosts, having staged the Cup of Nations in 1984. The Ivorians plan to use five cities – Abidjan, Bouake, Korhogo, San Pedro and the capital Yamoussoukro.

The 2023 hosts were not expected to be named at the executive committee meeting.

A Caf spokesperson later told the BBC that, on the basis of Guinea’s presentation “and commitment”, the committee “decided to exercise its power to make an immediate decision.”

Guinea have never hosted the competition which was first staged 57 years ago in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. Guinea’s bid promised to use Conakry, Kankan, Labe and Nzerekore as venues. Ironically the country is currently banned from hosting any international football by Caf because of the Ebola virus outbreak.

The two nations who miss out are Zambia and Algeria.

Zambia’s bid-package for the tournament in five years’ time included matches played against a backdrop of the spectacular Victoria Falls.

They were awarded the 1988 tournament only to be replaced by Morocco because they lacked the required funds.

The Algerian bid had seemed among the strongest, but their cause would not have been helped by the death of Cameroonian striker Albert Ebosse after a match in the north African state.

Ebosse died last month having being struck by a piece of slate allegedly thrown by a supporter of the club he played for, former African champions JS Kabylie.

Each country made a 30-minute, eve-of-vote presentation and the executive committee also had a report on each candidate to help them decide.

A five-man inspection team led by senior executive committee member Amadou Diakite from Mali spent several days in each of the five countries this year.

Among the facilities under the Caf microscope were stadiums, training grounds, hotels, hospitals and media centres, plus road, rail and air links.

The Nations Cup has been spread around the continent recently with southern, central, western and northern countries among the previous five hosts.

Ethiopia were the last east African hosts in 1976 with cash-strapped Kenya withdrawing as 1996 hosts and South Africa taking over.

Kenya, Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali and Zimbabwe are reportedly interested in replacing strife-torn Libya as the 2017 hosts ahead of a September 30 deadline for bids.

The 2017 Cup of Nations hosts will be named next year.

*Source BBC

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Eto'o dropped from Cameroon squad for Nations Cup qualifiers
August 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

_77135189_etocameroonCameroon have made a major overhaul to their squad, dropping 13 players from the party who went to the World Cup including captain Samuel Eto’o.

German-born Volker Finke, who has been maintained as Cameroon’s national coach despite a poor showing in Brazil, announced a new-look 25-man squad on Saturday for their forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Cameroon are away to the Democratic Republic of Congo on 6 September, and then at home against Ivory Coast four days later.

Eto’o has been without a club since being released by Chelsea at the end of last season and his absence was not unexpected as he has not played since his one appearance at the World Cup finals against Mexico in Natal.

The 33-year-old striker, who led the controversial strike over wages that delayed Cameroon’s trip to Brazil in June, had previously said he would like to add to his 115 caps.

Finke told BBC Sport he has to look towards the future, especially after the debacle in Brazil.

“I think after this World Cup, there was no choice. We have to change. That means we also have to change the spirit of the team, we have to change the mentality of the players.”

Midfielder Alex Song is out suspended after elbowing Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic in the back during the World Cup while defender Henri Bedimo was injured in Europa League action for Olympique Lyon earlier this month.

Also left out was Benoit Assou Ekotto, who tried to hit team mate Benjamin Moukandjo during the 4-0 defeat to Croatia in Manaus.

Finke said he was looking for young players with potential and is keen to give local players, from the Cameroonian championship, a chance to prove their worth.

“This is the moment, now we have to make a break because there are 16 or 17 players who just played at a World Cup for a second time, having played in 2010 and now 2014.

“Both times, they were performances we could not accept. They were not good performances. This is why, this is the moment that it has to change.”

Benjamin Moukandjo, who recently moved to Stade Reims in Ligue 1, is one of 10 players retained from the disappointing 2014 World Cup trip.

Volker has also named eight uncapped players.

Goalkeepers: Pierre Sylvain Abogo (Tonnerre Yaounde), Guy Roland Ndy Assembe (Nancy), Joseph Ondoua (Barcelona)

Defenders: Frank Bagnack (Barcelona), Gaetan Bong (Olympiakos), Cedric Djeugoue (Coton Sport), Jerome Guiahota (Valenciennes), Joel Matip (Schalke 04), Nicolas Nkoulou (Olympique de Marseille), Ambroise Oyongo (New York Red Bulls)

Midfielders: Enoh Eyong (Antalyaspor), Marc Kibong Mbamba (Konyaspor), Raoul Cedric Loe (Osasuna), Georges Mandjeck (Kayseri Erciyesspor), Stephane Mbia (Queens Park Rangers), Benjamin Moukandjo (Stade Reims), Landry Nguemo (Girondins Bordeaux), Edgar Salli (Monaco), Guy Christian Zock (Cosmos Bafia)

Forwards: Vincent Aboubakar (Lorient), Eric-Maxim Choupo Moting (Schalke 04), Jean Marie Dongou (Barcelona), Frank Etoundi (FC Zurich), Leonard Kwueke (Rizespor), Clinton Njie (Olympique Lyonnaise)

*Source BBC

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Didier Drogba retires from international football
August 9, 2014 | 0 Comments

Chelsea striker made 104 appearances for Ivory Coast and captained side for eight years

 

 

Didier Drogba has retired from international football after winning 104 caps with the Ivory Coast and captaining the side for eight years. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Didier Drogba has retired from international football after winning 104 caps with the Ivory Coast and captaining the side for eight years. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Didier Drogba has announced his retirement from international football with the Ivory Coast.

The 36-year-old, who last month re-joined Chelsea following a two-season absence with spells in China and Turkey, made his 104th and final appearance for Les Elephants during the World Cup in Brazil.

“It is with much sadness that I have decided to retire from international football,” Drogba said.

“I am very proud to have been captain of this team for eight years and to have contributed to placing my country on the world stage of football, taking part in three World Cups and two African Cup of Nations finals.

“I cannot convey enough thanks to the fans for all the love and support during these years. All my goals, all my caps, all our victories are for you.

“I also owe much gratitude to my team-mates – the players with whom I have shared all these emotions and I wish you all much success for the future and a very warm welcome to the new manager (Herve Renard).”

*Source irishtimes
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Ghana's World Cup coach Kwesi Appiah to quit post over technical director appointment
August 5, 2014 | 0 Comments

240x_mg_t85bsf1rqm_kwesiappiahactionGhana’s World Cup coach Kwesi Appiah will step down as Black Stars coach this week if a foreign trainer is appointed to supervise his work.

Highly-connected sports journalist Kwabena Yeboah says plans are underway by the Executive Committee of the Ghana Football Association to name a European coach to take over the position under the guise of a technical director.

This comes just four weeks before the Black Stars play two crucial matches in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Appiah agreed a two-year extension as the coach of the Black Stars before the World Cup but since the tournament in Brazil, some members have not been satisfied with the performance of the team, calling for a review of the contract.

This has sparked concerns among the body that the Black Stars technical bench must be boosted by the arrival of foreign coach who will serve as the technical director.

Appiah is currently in South Africa on holidays and he will return this week to discuss the signing of his contract and his new terms of engagement.

Yeboah says Appiah will consider stepping down if the Executive Committee proposes that another coach be appointed to supervise his work

“The coach was preparing to come down to start his new contract but the reports of his contract review has also been welcomed and he has decided to have a sit down with the Executive committee and some of the people who are opposed to the deal,” ace journalist Kwabena Yeboah said.

“You know the review is expected to bring up several decisions and suggestions and I can state that chiefly amongst them is to ask the coach, not just ask but impel him to appoint a technical help perhaps an expatriate to assist him in the remaining years of his contract.

“And when it comes to that I can categorically tell you that the coach would decide to step down, he will quit the job and move on if somebody is forcibly appointed to superintend over his work”.

Rumours are widespread in the media claiming that the country’s Sports Ministry together with some members of the GFA Executive Committee who oppose to the new deal announced by the GFA President Kwasi Nyantakyi have asked authorities to freeze the contract extension proposal pending further consultations.

Appiah’s contract has been extended till 2016 and is expected to fetch him a $100,000 signing fee, and almost double of his previous salary [from $20,000 to $36,500.

Ghana will begin the qualifiers for the 2015 African Cup of Nations in Morocco next month and technical changes with just four weeks before the two matches against Uganda and Togo could affect their chances.

*Source modernghana

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FIFA suspends Nigeria
July 10, 2014 | 0 Comments
“As a result of this decision, no team from Nigeria of any sort (including clubs) can have any international sporting contact (art. 14 par. 3 of the FIFA Statutes).”

“As a result of this decision, no team from Nigeria of any sort (including clubs) can have any international sporting contact (art. 14 par. 3 of the FIFA Statutes).”

The world football governing body, FIFA, has suspended the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, with immediate effect.

The suspension was announced in a statement on Wednesday evening.

FIFA said the suspension was due to government interference in football activities, particularly the controversial removal of the Aminu Maigari-led board of the NFF.

The suspension means no Nigerian team or club can participate in any FIFA competition.

“As a result of this decision, no team from Nigeria of any sort (including clubs) can have any international sporting contact (art. 14 par. 3 of the FIFA Statutes),” FIFA said.

Read full statement, sourced from goal.com, below

The FIFA Emergency Committee has decided today, 9 July 2014, to suspend the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) with immediate effect, on account of government interference. Article 13, par. 1 and article 17, par. 1 of the FIFA Statutes oblige member associations to manage their affairs independently and with no influence from third parties.

The decision follows a letter sent by FIFA to the NFF on 4 July 2014, in which it expressed its great concern after the NFF was served with court proceedings and consequently an order preventing the president of the NFF, the NFF Executive Committee members and the NFF Congress from running the affairs of Nigerian football was granted by a High Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The said court order compelled the Nigerian Minister of Sports to appoint a senior member of the civil service to manage the NFF until the matter was heard in court, without giving any date for such a hearing. The authorities then appointed a person who decided to convene an extraordinary general assembly on 5 July 2014. This extraordinary general assembly was convened in violation of the NFF statutes.

Originally, an elective congress had been planned by the NFF to take place on 26 August 2014.

The suspension will be lifted once the court actions have been withdrawn and the properly elected NFF Executive Committee, the NFF general assembly and the NFF administration are able to work without any interference in their affairs.

As a result of this decision, no team from Nigeria of any sort (including clubs) can have any international sporting contact (art. 14 par. 3 of the FIFA Statutes). During the period of suspension, the NFF may not be represented in any regional, continental or international competitions, including at club level, or in friendly matches. The most immediate effect is that Nigeria will not be entitled to participate in the upcoming FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup (5-24 August 2014) should the suspension not be lifted by 15 July 2014.

In addition, neither the NFF nor any of its members or officials may benefit from any FIFA or CAF development programmes, courses or training during the suspension period.

*Courtesy of Premium Times

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Africa ‘still at the World Cup in Brazil’
July 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Fred Kaweesi in Rio de Janeiro

 

Belgiums forward Romelu Lukaku

Belgiums forward Romelu Lukaku

Since all five African representatives were eliminated from the World Cup here, the first question I have had to deal with, is why I still have interest in the tournament.

On Monday, three French colleagues were kind enough to invite me for a party-filed night out after their close-shave win over Nigeria.

We chatted for hours about all things French and why Africa were big chokers at the World Cup.

But the one thing I noticed during the discussion, was that Africa could probably still have had a representative here had the playing field been level.

For example, some of France’s players are famously non-French. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But given France’s status as favourites, what if some of their guards had chosen to represent their countries of origin, would France, Belgium, Germany or the Netherlands still have a say in the current championship.

The nature of football, and of international demographics has seen a number of players competing for European nations here, players would have been eligible to represent African national sides.

With the help of Wikipedia, I’ll take you through some (with particular focus on the eight quarterfinalists) that would have helped some African states qualify or given those that did, a significant chance at this World Cup.

France

France's defender Patrice Evra

France’s defender Patrice Evra

Mamadou Sakho (Senegal), Paul Pogba (Guinea), Karim Benzema (Algeria), Patrice Evra (Senegal), Blaise Matuidi (Angola) and Bacary Sagna (Senegal), Rio Mavuba (DR Congo/Angola), Moussa Sissoko (Mali)
Eight of France’s 23-man team stars have African origins.

Sakho was born in Paris to Senegalese parents and was the fourth child of a family of seven children.

On the contrary, Evra was born in Senegalese capital Dakar to a Senegalese father of Guinean descent and Juliette, a Cape Verdean mother.

Ahead of the 2010 World Cup, Evra even confessed that he had suffered racial abuse from Senegal fans for choosing to represent France internationally over his native homeland.

Midfielder Matuidi was born in Toulouse, Haute-Garonne to an Angolan father, Faria Rivelino. He was however raised in the Parisian suburbs of Fontenay-sous-Bois.

Pogba’s story even hurts the most. Of Guinean origin, Paul Pogba is now one of the best players in France.

His older twin brothers Florentin and Mathias chose to represent their country of birth Guinea.

How about Benzema? The Real Madrid star was born in the city of Lyon to French nationals of Algerian descent.

The one player you would excuse is Sagna.

At age of 17, Sagna wished to join up with the Senegalese national team stating, “I wanted to play for Senegal when I was 17, but they didn’t reply. So I was a bit disappointed. But when I started playing for Auxerre for the first team, they (Senegal) contacted me and I had a game on the same day with the French national team under 21’s so I had to make a choice”.

Belgium

Divock Origi (Kenya), Romelu Lukaku (DR Congo), Vincent Kompany (Congo), Mousa Dembele (Mali), Marouane Fellaini (Morocco), Nacer Chadli (Morocco), Anthony Vanden Borre (DR Congo)

Kompany’s father, Pierre, is a Congolese immigrant to Belgium and serves as his agent.
Fellaini was eligible to play for either Belgium or Morocco. He chose to represent Belgium, from youth level upwards. Chadli’s parents are from Morocco too but chose Belgium.

Dembele was born in Wilrijk but his father Yaya is of Malian origin.

Lukaku was born in Antwerp but his father Roger Lukaku is Congolese and even represented DR Congo.

Origi would have been next door representing Kenya. His father Mike Okoth and mother Linda Athiambo are of Kenyan origin.

Germany

Jerome Boateng

Jerome Boateng

Jerome Boateng (Ghana), Sami Khedira (Tunisia)
Although his brother Kevin-Prince Boateng chose Ghana, Jerome Boateng opted for Germany.
Khedira was born in Stuttgart but his father is Tunisian.

Netherlands

Martins Indi (Guinea-Bissau), Terense Kongolo (DR Congo), Memphis Depay (Ghana)
Indi was born in Portugal but to parents from Guinea-Bissau.

He moved to Rotterdam, South Netherlands at the age of three months.

Kongolo was born in Switzerland his parents are from DR Congo. Memphis Depay’s parents

on the other hand are from Ghana.

*newvision

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Two sides to every story – why African players shouldn’t be blamed for pay disputes
July 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Peter Staunton*

images (2)It is a privilege to be selected to play for one’s nation at a World Cup, but there is a duty on behalf of football associations to ensure that all players are respected.

Three African teams – and especially their players – have been painted in very poor light at this World Cup over issues of appearance fees and bonuses. They are being made to carry undue flak.

“Money, money, money had been the refrain by the players, and it is a pity they allowed this to ruin our World Cup,” Ghana FA president Kwesi Nyantakyi was quoted as saying by the state-owned Daily Graphic last week.

Cameroon reportedly refused to travel to Brazil until their bonuses were increased. Ghana’s players allegedly threatened to strike instead of playing against Portugal until they had their $3 million collective bonus flown to Brazil and paid in cash; that money was initially promised but not delivered. Nigeria’s players then reportedly refused to train until their bonus money for qualifying to the last 16 the second round was paid.

More ammunition, then, was provided for those who wish to portray footballers as greedy and alienated. It is convenient to paint the players as the bad guys as that keeps the focus off the football associations themselves.

Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng was thrown out of the squad before it played Portugal and his interview with Bild in the aftermath was revealing.

“It was a nightmare from the first day to the end,” he said of his World Cup experience. “I never thought that anybody could organize a World Cup so badly – from the flights to the hotels – everything was so amateurish.

“The flight from Miami to Brazil was 12 hours and we were sat cramped in in economy. It was hard on our legs. It may sound a little strange to normal people, but for a professional sportsman it’s unreasonable. At the same time, the president was sat in business [class] with his wife and two children.”

And bonuses are not a uniquely African issue. There isn’t one team at the World Cup who went to Brazil without a guaranteed participation bonus. Germany’s players got their initial 50,000 euro-per-man bonus after defeating Algeria last night and will be taking home 300,000 euros each if they lift the trophy. Spain was on 720,000 euros per man for winning the World Cup.

FIFA guarantees payment to each country with rewards ranging from 25.5 million euros – for the winning side – downward to 5.8 million for a group stage exit plus an extra 1 million euro participation fee. The problem comes with the non-delivery of money by the football associations – or even the threat of that.

“These things are normally sorted out before the competition, you can’t keep telling the players the money will come,” Ghana coach James Kwesi Appiah told the press last week. The country’s president, John Drahami Mahama, was eventually forced to step in.

“What we have to do for future World Cups is to ensure that firstly there is an agreement between the players and their national associations for the payments of bonuses,” FIFA general-secretary Jerome Valcke said last week.

This isn’t the first time that African teams have been caught up in rows over bonuses. Nigeria’s 1998 World Cup campaign was derailed by a spat before it crashed out in the second round to Denmark. Togo’s one and only appearance at the finals was overshadowed by a bonus row. “In our FA everyone thinks about their own pockets,” Emmanuel Adebayor said to Radio Frequence1 in 2012.

Cameroon’s players pulled out of an international friendly against Algeria in 2011 following the staging of the LG Cup. No bonuses were paid to the players following the event and as such drastic action was taken through a strike. “What is the quota for players who work for this money that goes into the coffers of the Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot)? This is the question,” Samuel Eto’o asked Mboafootball in May.

What do players like Adebayor and Eto’o have to gain from another $10,000? They are rich beyond their wildest dreams. Not every international, however, for those nations earns like those two. Having a spokesperson with such sway can be beneficial to voiceless players who would otherwise be ignored. For a player in the Togolese or Cameroonian leagues, a bonus for taking part in the World Cup could be the best earning opportunity of their career and should be treated as such.

There is money within these associations, make no mistake. One colleague tells a story of going to a certain headquarters for the purpose of collecting money on behalf of a player and being confronted with dusty envelopes full of cash which had not yet been sent to players. Both Ghana and Nigeria’s football associations have been left high and dry by botched sponsorship deals in the past year – with Glo reneging on financial agreements. But that is no excuse – not when FIFA guarantees payment for every participating nation at the World Cup.

“FIFA does not pay before the players arrive for the competition, FIFA pays after,” Kwesi explained. “The government or the FA has to find money to pay and later get it back off FIFA. Once there is a delay in getting it from the government or FA it becomes a problem.”

Four Nigerian officials, including former federation president Sani Lulu Abdullahi, were arrested after the World Cup in 2010 in relation to a missing 5.8 million euro sum that was allegedly misappropriated. Abdullahi has since been cleared of the wrongdoing and recently wrote to president Goodluck Jonathan asking for a Presidential Task Force to investigate the missing money.

“It’s not about being paid reward for anything,” said Appiah. “It’s got to do with an appearance fee, which I think every country pays its players, not just Ghana. It’s a right.”

These players are representing their nation and their people. The least their FAs could do is look after them. There are two sides to every story. “Why did our federation not invest some of the considerable amount of money they had received from FIFA in letting us live this whole experience better?” Boateng asked. It is a question which deserves examination.

*Source Goal/Yahoo

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Two sides to every story – why African players shouldn't be blamed for pay disputes
July 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Peter Staunton*

images (2)It is a privilege to be selected to play for one’s nation at a World Cup, but there is a duty on behalf of football associations to ensure that all players are respected.

Three African teams – and especially their players – have been painted in very poor light at this World Cup over issues of appearance fees and bonuses. They are being made to carry undue flak.

“Money, money, money had been the refrain by the players, and it is a pity they allowed this to ruin our World Cup,” Ghana FA president Kwesi Nyantakyi was quoted as saying by the state-owned Daily Graphic last week.

Cameroon reportedly refused to travel to Brazil until their bonuses were increased. Ghana’s players allegedly threatened to strike instead of playing against Portugal until they had their $3 million collective bonus flown to Brazil and paid in cash; that money was initially promised but not delivered. Nigeria’s players then reportedly refused to train until their bonus money for qualifying to the last 16 the second round was paid.

More ammunition, then, was provided for those who wish to portray footballers as greedy and alienated. It is convenient to paint the players as the bad guys as that keeps the focus off the football associations themselves.

Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng was thrown out of the squad before it played Portugal and his interview with Bild in the aftermath was revealing.

“It was a nightmare from the first day to the end,” he said of his World Cup experience. “I never thought that anybody could organize a World Cup so badly – from the flights to the hotels – everything was so amateurish.

“The flight from Miami to Brazil was 12 hours and we were sat cramped in in economy. It was hard on our legs. It may sound a little strange to normal people, but for a professional sportsman it’s unreasonable. At the same time, the president was sat in business [class] with his wife and two children.”

And bonuses are not a uniquely African issue. There isn’t one team at the World Cup who went to Brazil without a guaranteed participation bonus. Germany’s players got their initial 50,000 euro-per-man bonus after defeating Algeria last night and will be taking home 300,000 euros each if they lift the trophy. Spain was on 720,000 euros per man for winning the World Cup.

FIFA guarantees payment to each country with rewards ranging from 25.5 million euros – for the winning side – downward to 5.8 million for a group stage exit plus an extra 1 million euro participation fee. The problem comes with the non-delivery of money by the football associations – or even the threat of that.

“These things are normally sorted out before the competition, you can’t keep telling the players the money will come,” Ghana coach James Kwesi Appiah told the press last week. The country’s president, John Drahami Mahama, was eventually forced to step in.

“What we have to do for future World Cups is to ensure that firstly there is an agreement between the players and their national associations for the payments of bonuses,” FIFA general-secretary Jerome Valcke said last week.

This isn’t the first time that African teams have been caught up in rows over bonuses. Nigeria’s 1998 World Cup campaign was derailed by a spat before it crashed out in the second round to Denmark. Togo’s one and only appearance at the finals was overshadowed by a bonus row. “In our FA everyone thinks about their own pockets,” Emmanuel Adebayor said to Radio Frequence1 in 2012.

Cameroon’s players pulled out of an international friendly against Algeria in 2011 following the staging of the LG Cup. No bonuses were paid to the players following the event and as such drastic action was taken through a strike. “What is the quota for players who work for this money that goes into the coffers of the Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot)? This is the question,” Samuel Eto’o asked Mboafootball in May.

What do players like Adebayor and Eto’o have to gain from another $10,000? They are rich beyond their wildest dreams. Not every international, however, for those nations earns like those two. Having a spokesperson with such sway can be beneficial to voiceless players who would otherwise be ignored. For a player in the Togolese or Cameroonian leagues, a bonus for taking part in the World Cup could be the best earning opportunity of their career and should be treated as such.

There is money within these associations, make no mistake. One colleague tells a story of going to a certain headquarters for the purpose of collecting money on behalf of a player and being confronted with dusty envelopes full of cash which had not yet been sent to players. Both Ghana and Nigeria’s football associations have been left high and dry by botched sponsorship deals in the past year – with Glo reneging on financial agreements. But that is no excuse – not when FIFA guarantees payment for every participating nation at the World Cup.

“FIFA does not pay before the players arrive for the competition, FIFA pays after,” Kwesi explained. “The government or the FA has to find money to pay and later get it back off FIFA. Once there is a delay in getting it from the government or FA it becomes a problem.”

Four Nigerian officials, including former federation president Sani Lulu Abdullahi, were arrested after the World Cup in 2010 in relation to a missing 5.8 million euro sum that was allegedly misappropriated. Abdullahi has since been cleared of the wrongdoing and recently wrote to president Goodluck Jonathan asking for a Presidential Task Force to investigate the missing money.

“It’s not about being paid reward for anything,” said Appiah. “It’s got to do with an appearance fee, which I think every country pays its players, not just Ghana. It’s a right.”

These players are representing their nation and their people. The least their FAs could do is look after them. There are two sides to every story. “Why did our federation not invest some of the considerable amount of money they had received from FIFA in letting us live this whole experience better?” Boateng asked. It is a question which deserves examination.

*Source Goal/Yahoo

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The triple burden of Africa’s FIFA World Cup
July 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

Takura Zhangazha*

 

While African football players have done very well for the European teams that hired them, the question during every FIFA tournament remains the same: when will an African team become the world champion?

 

Every time the FIFA World Cup tournament occurs, at least as far as I can recall, the question of ‘will it be Africa’s time to win it?’ recurs. Not necessarily

The Cameroon football team is nicknamed Les Lions Indomptables (The Indomitable Lions). Image: ESPN ad, 2010

The Cameroon football team is nicknamed Les Lions Indomptables (The Indomitable Lions). Image: ESPN ad, 2010

because expectations are ever high that an African team will lift the globally famous cup. But more because African football players have been performing wonders at the highest levels/leagues of the beautiful game in Europe. It therefore always baffles many an African mind why they cannot do the same for their countries (most often confused with ‘continent’).

But when the tournament kicks off, the questions are subsumed by enthusiastic optimism. The entirety of Africa’s football fans will watch, scream at television sets and even hug in bars, church recreation rooms in the name of one of the five African teams in the tournament. Even if it was the one that relegated a home African country out of contention for qualifying for the tournament.

And after the group stages, where we start counting the lower number of African countries left, we still cling to the hope that one will continue to the semi-finals. And we have come close, three times. With Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010, all of which lost at the quarter final stages of the sporting competition. And if satellite images in each of these previous tournaments could pick up images of the anguish of a continent, it would only be those of Africa that would be spectacular.

The anguish is not without cause. Firstly as part of a global spectacle, and as I am sure has been noted by sports writers and scholars, the World Cup is both footballing competition and affirmation of global ‘togetherness’ as well as identity (nationalism). The latter may be more so for many of the established football powerhouses who coincidentally tend to be either the most ‘developed’ countries.

For Africa however the World Cup appears to be primarily about both history and collective continental identity. Mainly because the continent cannot shirk off the false global impression that it is somewhat backward, not only in relation to ‘development’ but as a result thereof, in football.

And that’s the first burden of Africa and the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Even after successfully hosting the last one in South Africa (though it had FIFA special courts temporarily replacing South African ones).

Our teams, our players and ourselves have to get over the notions that inform our continental history of being assumedly backward or less than the other in order to succeed at the tournament. And this is what also informs our enthusiastic support for African teams, almost as though we are there to prove a point. Hence, almost every African football pundit hints at needing to concentrate more and keep focused in the aftermath of an initial defeat for an African team. Not only in relation to the game that was played, but in relation to the strength of other teams in the same qualifying group. Especially if they are known and established football powerhouses.

The Ivorian national team is popularly known as Les Éléphants (The Elephants). Image: ESPN ad, 2010

The Ivorian national team is popularly known as Les Éléphants (The Elephants). Image: ESPN ad, 2010

This general but given point, leads to the second burden. One which falls on the shoulders of the player. Especially the star player who plies his trade in the best football leagues in the world. He has to contend with the fact that in another country he would have been in one of the powerful teams. And that his real teammates may not be good enough to challenge for the title since he knows the quality of the players and teams they are all up against.

He has to commit what others in political circles have referred to as ‘class suicide’ and see himself as much a team player in his own national side than that which he usually gets very well paid for playing with. He has to believe in his own team, even against the odds, and this is a burden few players (and teams) have been able to shoulder. Apart from Cameroon 1990, Senegal 2002 and Ghana 2010.

This brings us to the third burden, that of the imperative of Africa having to learn to compete better in global tournaments through adequate and holistic domestic development of sporting cultures.

The tendency of most African states has been that of waiting for talent in various sporting disciplines to emerge by default as opposed to seeking it out and nurturing it. And where we have been most successful, particularly in long-distance running, we have lost our most prodigious talents to other countries. The burden of all Africans is to therefore invest in their sports, not at the whim of a corporations only but also through transparent state funding. As well as through the establishment of a sporting industry that respects and values talent across all sporting disciplines, economic classes and gender.

So, as the FIFA 2014 World Cup reaches familiar stages for African teams, the questions we must ask of ourselves are whether we are continually going to keep our fingers crossed and prayers consistently on our lips so that this time, a country from our continent wins it. Even if by luck. Or whether again we witness a faltering, not for a lack of talent, but for lack of holistic preparation. And once again, hear a sports commentator mention, ‘Oh my, the Africans are coming’ during a game and not know the full import of such a statement.

*Source thisisafrica

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World Cup 2014: Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi resigns after exit
July 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

keshi11Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has stepped down from his position after the Super Eagles’ exit from the World Cup in Brazil.

France scored twice in the last 11 minutes in Brasilia on Monday to reach the quarter-finals at their expense.

The 52-year-old was appointed Nigeria boss in 2011 and helped them become African champions two years later.

Nigeria captain Joseph Yobo also retired from international football following their exit.

Fenerbahce’s Yobo, 33, scored a late own goal after Paul Pogba’s header had broken Nigerian resistance.

Keshi offered his resignation after last year’s Africa Cup Of Nations triumph, citing a lack of support and respect, although he was persuaded to stay by Nigeria’s sport minister.

A group stage win against Bosnia-Hercegovina helped Nigeria reach the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time since 1998, despite the players being involved in a row over bonuses.

The achievement also made Keshi the first African coach to lead the Super Eagles past the group stage.

However, he now becomes the sixth manager to leave his job during the World Cup, following the departures of Honduras’s Luis Suarez, Iran’s Carlos Queiroz, Japan’s Alberto Zaccheroni, Italy’s Cesare Prandelli and Ivory Coast’s Sabri Lamouchi.

Keshi, who captained Nigeria at the 1994 World Cup finals, was previously in charge of Mali and Togo.

Yobo told BBC Sport it was a sad but glorious end to his own international career as Nigeria failed to make their first ever quarter-finals.

“This is it. I can look back on my career with great pride,” he said.

“It’s time to give a chance to other people to come through. Our football has a bright future and I am confident this team can achieve success sooner rather than later.”

Yobo is his country’s most capped player with 100 appearances and will continue to play club football.

His 10 matches at World Cup finals – a national record – have come in three tournaments, 2002, 2010 and 2014.

“I wanted to leave on a high for my country. Defeat by France was not the right way to go but I’m happy with all I’ve done for the national team,” he added.

*BBC

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African Teams Head Home, Cash in Hand
July 1, 2014 | 0 Comments

World Cup 2014: African Soccer Overshadowed by Protests

 

By DAVID WALDSTEIN*

AFRICACUP-master675BRASÍLIA — This has been a history-making World Cup for Africa, and not just for the number of contentious meetings, suspensions and threatened player boycotts. For the first time, two teams from the soccer-adoring continent advanced to the knockout stage of the tournament.

But that sense of accomplishment succumbed to reality in a matter of hours Monday as both teams battled hard but lost to favored opponents, leaving behind more lasting images of training ground strikes, cash-laden airplanes and an assortment of missed opportunities.

Algeria lost to Germany, 2-1, in overtime and Nigeria lost to France, 2-0, leaving Africa without a team in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2006. No African team, despite a history of dazzling players, has ever reached the semifinals.

“Why do we go home early?” Nigeria’s coach, Stephen Keshi, said after Nigeria’s elimination on Monday. “If I were on the field playing I don’t think I would want to go home. Maybe there are some players without too much focus on the game, and there’s probably a lot of things that are going on.”

Five African teams qualified for the World Cup, and three of them, including Nigeria, engaged in some player protest or impromptu negotiations with their soccer federations over money they were concerned they would never see.

Cameroon took the initiative even before the team boarded its plane for Brazil, with the players demanding their appearance fee for the World Cup up front, in cash. Or else, they said, they would not go. Last week the players from Ghana refused to practice and threatened a player strike in their game against Portugal unless they quickly received more than $3 million, cash in hand.

One day later, the players from Nigeria also refused to practice and made the same demand of their soccer federation: Pay us now, in cash, or we go home.

Ultimately, the presidents of Ghana and Nigeria intervened to settle the turmoil, but not before more rancor bubbled up. Two of Ghana’s best players — Kevin-Prince Boateng and Ali Sulley Muntari — were suspended before the final game when the disputes grew more personal.

The World Cup is the grandest sporting event on the planet, a chance for every nation to show off to the world, through its soccer teams. But unattractive issues sometimes emerge, too.

“I think every national soccer team reflects its country’s characteristics,” said Steve Bloomfield, the author of “Africa United: How Football Explains Africa.” “In Africa, these problems sometimes crop up. But it is not only Africa. Four years ago, France fell apart, and it wouldn’t be a World Cup without seeing the Netherlands implode.”

To be sure, France, the Netherlands and England have at times been splintered through infighting, and in 1974 West Germany nearly staged a boycott ahead of its own World Cup over a payment dispute.

Italy has been embroiled in scandals involving top clubs, and Ireland has had public spats over payments to players, too. Even Johan Cruyff, the great Dutch star, once refused to wear his Adidas team jersey because he was paid by Puma.

But in recent years some of the Western African nations have taken the money squabbling to new levels. At the 2006 World Cup, Togo boycotted a training session and threatened to skip a game in order to force its soccer association to pony up the dough.

Ghana’s one-day training strike last week before the arrival of its cash came two days before it played a pivotal game against Portugal. It was no way to prepare for a critical contest, and Ghana lost, 2-1.

On Thursday, before their game against France, the Nigerian players followed the Ghanaians’ lead, refusing to practice and threatening to strike unless they were paid. Eventually, President Goodluck Jonathan intervened and assured the players that after the World Cup they would get their money.

Keshi denied that there was ever a threat of a Nigerian strike and said a visit to the team from government officials Sunday included a bonus payment. The rest of the money is expected to arrive later.

“Whatever money that we got was just a bonus to encourage every individual to come out and do his best today,” he said.

Africa is a continent as diverse as any other, but the countries that do send their teams to the World Cup often do not have the same resources of many of their competitors. Some of them also grapple with issues of corruption and favoritism.

Steve Jacobs, a self-described “terrible club player” from Cape Town teaches a course called Global Soccer, Global Politics at the New School in New York. He noted that Algeria had no discernible issues at this World Cup, and played very well, but that financial problems do tend to afflict the Western African countries.

“Every tournament since 1990 Cameroon has had a problem with money,” Jacobs said. He said that there was no accountability for some of the soccer associations in Africa and that they “act with impunity.”

“I don’t want to talk about this because we have become a laughingstock,” said one Ghanaian journalist, who asked not to be identified. He was not the same journalist who booed the players after the Portugal game, prompting Asamoah Gyan, a Ghanaian forward, to try to fight the man.

The success of numerous African players in the richest leagues in Europe and elsewhere is a factor in the recurring disputes. Upon experiencing the first-class travel and guaranteed money of those leagues, those players are less tolerant of anything less than that from their national soccer associations.

Bloomfield, who is a former correspondent for The Independent newspaper in Kenya, said African players are often distrustful of their soccer associations and said he did not blame them for feeling that way.

Most soccer associations pay their players after the World Cup, once FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, has made its disbursements.

But some players in Africa have concluded that their only leverage comes before a World Cup game, even it if appears they are holding their nation for ransom. Bloomfield reckons that star players like Boateng and Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast now actually have more influence than their own soccer associations, which enables them to push the payment issue on behalf of their teammates, any number of whom do not play in Europe and do not earn nearly as much money.

The Ivory Coast did not have any public disputes in this World Cup, but with one of the most talented teams in the tournament, they were disappointed not to fare better. Drogba, however, said the reason Africans teams haven’t advanced as far as the World Cup semifinals has more to do with probability than financial disputes.

“We only have five teams in the World Cup out of 32,” he said.

FIFA has been watching all the turmoil and has been involved in the recent pay negotiations. In the future, it wants to eliminate the problem.

“It’s sad that we end up with stories where we are talking about a strike and the players would not play if they don’t receive their money,” said FIFA’s general secretary, Jérôme Valcke. “The fact that the money came in cash is also sad.”

For the Ghanaian players, it did not appear sad at all, except for the tax implications. They each received crisp stacks of United States bills equaling more than $100,000 per man, after the Brazilians took 17 percent at the airport. James Kwesi Appiah, Ghana’s coach, said the reason players wanted the money in cash was a matter of tradition.

“In a normal sense it should be paid straight to a bank account,” he said. “But you are coming from a different area, and you need to understand the differences.”

One of the Ghanaian players, John Boye, was photographed kissing his bundle of cash. The next day, he accidentally scored a goal against his own team as Ghana’s World Cup ended in acrimony. In a tournament that held so much promise for Africa, the rest of the teams are gone, too.

*NY Times

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World Cup – Yaya Toure: City stopped me seeing dying brother
June 30, 2014 | 0 Comments

Yaya Toure has claimed that Manchester City prevented him from spending time with his brother Ibrahim, who died of cancer last week.

 

1265260-27296819-2560-1440Yaya and older brother Kolo are both at the World Cup, and left their younger sibling – also a footballer – with the rest of the family.

In an interview with sports newspaper France Football, Yaya said: “I confess that I am still very sad. I¹m suffering because I feel I have done nothing useful for him the last few weeks

“At the end of the season, I wanted to stay for four or five days with my brother before I flew to prepare for the World Cup with Ivory Coast, except that City did not want to give me a few days.

“I went to celebrate the title championship in Abu Dhabi while my brother was in his sickbed. By fortune, Kolo was at his bedside. After that I blame myself for not insisting and for not leading them to respect me.

“However, club officials knew that I had been suffering for a few months seeing the health of my brother decline. This is the reason I had several injuries at the end of the season, because my head had taken control of my body. These last four months have probably been the hardest in my life.

“I have had sporting success, except that when you get home and you find yourself facing the distress of someone you love, but you do not know how you can help, it¹s not good.”

Toure had previously criticised the club for not publicly acknowledging his birthday, but these claims are markedly more serious. He said that the “beautiful party” of the World Cup had stopped for him on Thursday when he learned of Ibrahim’s death.

“For sure, doctors had left me with very little hope when I had left for the World Cup. During those days, he could not even respond to my calls, he was so tired.

“I also felt that brother Ismael and my sister Aicha, who had stayed with him in Manchester, were not telling me everything the last few days. Despite that, in these cases we always try and hold on to a miracle.

“The news came as a huge shock because I was very close to him. We spent two years apart but we were very close. As kids we always stuck together and we played in the famous local tournaments that were never-ending.

1265249-27296608-640-360“I wonder how I¹ll cope without him. I know that I will no longer be able to hear him, sense him, see him, this feels awful, especially when you¹re thousands of kilometres away.

“Luckily, I have Kolo with me. More than once, he has played big brother to me, finding the words to comfort me, keep me strong, talk to me.

“At one point, we thought about leaving Brazil for Manchester to see Ibrahim one last time. But our father advised against it and we listened.”

*Source yahoo

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