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International Football

FIFA Struggling to Regain Sponsors’ Trust

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Business may not be going to well with FIFA, once rated as the most buoyant sporting organisation in the world. According to Associated Press, even a year after a change of leadership was effected, FIFA is still pleading with the world: Trust us.

For this reason, it has been a great task trying to sell the sponsorship of its lead bran, the World Cup which final tournament is barely a year from now.

According to the report, Gianni Infatino, at the second congress he is presiding over, had to constantly echo the refrain: “crisis is over” to the gathering of soccer’s 211 nations.

The AP reports that criminal investigations are still exposing shady transactions of the past.

The suitability of members of the ruling council remains in doubt. Reforms intended to curb the powers of the president and restore FIFA’s credibility are being eroded.

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Against this backdrop, FIFA has been trying to persuade commercial backers to sign up after so many were scared off by the corruption that plagued the Sepp Blatter era.

FIFA’s leadership was able to start its congress week in Bahrain by trumpeting the arrival of Qatar Airways to fill the airline sponsorship category that has been vacant for more than two years.

But the deal was anticipated given it is the state-owned carrier of the 2022 World Cup hosts.

A true test of the confidence of FIFA’s new hierarchy will come when major international corporations sign up that are not from China, Russia or Qatar — the source of all of FIFA’s new World Cup deals in recent years.

New sponsors in traditional strongholds like Japan and the United States have yet to convince shareholders they should partner with a scandal-tainted organization.

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Many were scared off in 2015 when FIFA’s reputation was shredded by widespread bribery being exposed after high-ranking executives were arrested in Zurich hotel raids.

“We hope that more (sponsors) will come before the end of the year,” FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura told The Associated Press.

“That was a strong signal from Qatar Airways to recognize the new leadership of FIFA is working toward restoring the image of FIFA and that there is climate of trust that is really here to push for more partnerships.”

Trust, according to Samoura, also comes through a new generation of officials being elected to the FIFA Council.

“It’s a strong demonstration that gender empowerment,” Samoura said, pointing to Mahfuza Akhter of Bangladesh being elected on Tuesday as Asia’s female representative at FIFA.

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It was a surprise result. Moya Dodd, an outspoken critic of corruption and prominent champion of women’s football, lost to Akhter, who couldn’t name the Women’s World Cup holder in a post-election interview.

American soccer stars Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd were among those to express surprise at the setback for Dodd, an Australian lawyer who is still on the Asian Football Confederation executive committee.

“I’m sure she will land on her feet somehow in football,” said Samoura, who was hired last year as FIFA’s first female secretary general.

“She has football in her heart and I’m sure that FIFA or another confederation or her home federation will continue to make good use of her skills.”

Those skills were used by a reform committee in 2015 that helped to reshape FIFA following the U.S. Department of Justice indictments of soccer officials.

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The progress of some reforms, however, appears to have stalled — despite Infantino helping to draft them in the FIFA-appointed advisory panel while he was a presidential candidate.

Power should have drained from the presidency to the CEO-like secretary general, but Infantino has retained a Blatter-like grip on executive authority.

A new FIFA Bureau that was not on the reform program now has given more authority to Infantino and the six regional confederation leaders, whose decisions need not be ratified by a 37-strong council that replaced the discredited executive committee.

“That can be the appearance,” CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani said, “but I think the collaborations at the council level and the discussions are quite healthy.

“The bureau is there to act in between when the council meets. If there are decisions that are needed on a timely basis for operational issues they have to be made.”

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The most recent addition to the bureau and council is Ahmad, who ended Issa Hayatou’s 29-year grip on power in Africa in March.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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International Football

New twist in Cameroon football coach crisis

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA

The coaching crisis in Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions has taken a new dimension as the football federation, FECAFOOT, led by former international, Samuel Eto’o goes in direct confrontation with the coaching crew appointed by the sports ministry which also picks the bills.

  According to a Cameroon official who will not like to be named as he was not authorised to speak on the matter, the claims and counter claims of both the sports ministry and the FECAFOOT led by Eto’o had been heard and decided by the conciliation and arbitration chamber of the Cameroonian national Olympic committee, which is a court in charge of sports cases in Cameroon.

  “What is in contention is not the position of the Belgian coach, Marcc Brys, but that of the Cameroonian assistants attached to him.”

  The source explained to Sports Village Square that although the employment of Brys by the sports ministry was initially contested by Eto’o, the former player has come to accept the situation.

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  “In Cameroon, there is always a techenical crew of nine to 11. The foreign coach is allowed to bring in two foreign assistants, while the others are always Cameroonians.

  In this case, the sports ministry approved the list of two foreign assistants by Brys while also announcing another set of local assistants that included former international, François Omam-Biyik, one of the stars of Italia ‘90  and the scorer of the goal that gave Cameroon a 1-0 win over a Diego Maradona-inspired  Argentina.

  “That is where the problem is. FECAFOOT also submitted a list of technical crew that included Brys and his two foreign assistants but dropped the names of the local assistants with new ones.”

  In essence, there are two lists with both having three names as same, but differ on the rest.

 According to the source, the list submitted by the sports ministry was upheld by the tribunal which threw aside that of FECAFOOT.

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  In another twist, FIFA has already removed the name of Marc Brys from the profile of Cameroon on its website. Only the name of national women’s coach, Jean-Baptiste Bisseck is listed.

The removal of Brys’ name is happening a second time as it was first removed at the end of last month before being reinstated.

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International Football

Cameroon’s appointment of Brys as manager suspended by sports tribunal

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Marc Brys

Cameroon’s appointment of Belgian Marc Brys as head coach was suspended by the country’s top sports tribunal on Tuesday following the petition of an amateur football club.

The country’s sports ministry stirred controversy last month when it named 61-year-old Brys as manager of the Indomitable Lions without consulting the football federation (FECAFOOT).

The move sparked a dispute between the sports ministry and FECAFOOT, which said the government had made a unilateral decision.

In response, it asked its president Samuel Eto’o to propose a national coach and other management staff for the national side within 72 hours, deepening its standoff with the sports ministry.

Eto’o kept Brys as head coach but named different assistants, technical, medical and administrative staff.

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An amateur club, meanwhile, took the matter to the Arbitration and Conciliation Chamber of the Cameroon National Olympic and Sports Committee.

In a provisional ruling on Tuesday, the court suspended the FECAFOOT appointments while it fully examined the matter. Concerned parties have 24 hours to appeal.

FECAFOOT in response said it “reserves the right to refer these decisions to FIFA, as they hinder the preparation process for the forthcoming sport events.

“The Emergency Committee of FECAFOOT will meet immediately to take appropriate measures,” it said in a statement.

Soccer’s world governing body FIFA has strict rules against government interference in national federations and has frequently banned countries when governments get involved in federation affairs.

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The president of the Cameroon Association of Amateur Football Clubs, Balla Ongolo Henri, had previously said Eto’o’s appointments would damage Cameroon’s image and disrupt preparations for the 2026 World Cup qualifiers next June.

Brys, 61, penned a contract on May 8 as head coach of the Indomitable Lions following the dismissal of Rigobert Song in February. FECAFOOT did not attend the signing ceremony.

The sports ministry says it has acted in accordance with national and international regulations.

Reuters

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Amokachi, Adebayor and Amanda Dlamini confirmed for CAF African Schools Championship Finals

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African football legends, Emmanuel Adebayor, Daniel Amokachi and Amanda Dlamini are some of the top names that have been confirmed for the Continental Finals of the CAF African Schools Football Championship 2024 scheduled in Zanzibar between 21 – 24 May 2024.

The CAF African Schools Football Championship is the school’s competition that includes over 44 African countries with over 800 000 participants of Boys and Girls under the age of 15.

This is the second edition of the competition that is not only focused on Football but also on a number of programmes including Young Referee’s Programme, Young Reporter Programme and Safeguarding. 

Adebayor, CAF Player of the Year in 2008, represented Togo at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany for their only appearance at the tournament. Ex-striker for Arsenal, Manchester City, Real Madrid, and others, the Togolese star has had a successful career, earning over 85 caps with Les Eperviers.

Nigerian football star Amokachi played 42 international matches for the Super Eagles. He participated in the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cups and was part of the team that won the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations in 1994 and the Olympic Games in 1996.

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Former Banyana Banyana (South Africa) captain Dlamini played in two TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations competitions where they finished third and second in 2010 and 2012, respectively. She is one of the few footballers, both in the men’s and women’s national teams to reach 100 caps.

Dlamini recently made history when she became the first female to be part of the world commentary feed at the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023.

Also on the list are local stars Abdi Kassim Sadalla, former Tanzanian National Team Captain, and Hilda Masanche, Head coach of the Tanzania U17 Women’s National Team.

The Legends will feature in various activities to promote and support football development among African youth.

The finals will bring together talented young players from across the continent, providing them a platform to showcase their skills and passion for the game.

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-CAF

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