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Indonesia newspaper laments World Cup hosting rights withdrawal

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‘Sports and politics don’t mix’ is the headline of an editorial published by Indonesia newspaper, The Jakarta Post.

This is in the aftermath of FIFA’s revocation of an earlier hosting rights given to Indonesia for the FIFA U-20 World Cup.

Following Indonesia’s refusal to allow Israel, a qualified team to feature in the competition, FIFA on Wednesday took the competition away from Indonesia.

The editorial blamed the country’s leader, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’  and his political party, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P),

for allowing politics to creep into sports in the moderate Islamic country.

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“The endgame of this affair will unfold soon, but one thing for sure is that politics still prevails in almost all aspects of life in this country.

“We have seen the weaponization of laws for political interests, as happened in the enforcement of the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law, the revision of the Criminal Code, and the politicization of religion, which was rampant during elections both in national and regional levels. The move by Bali Governor I Wayan Koster and Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo, who both are PDI-P members, to reject entry of the Israeli youth team is a blatant attempt to politicize sports.

“With the Feb. 14, 2024 elections in mind, the PDI-P, which failed to perform in regions known for their leaning to conservative Islam, will expect to reap votes from Muslim electorates to win both the legislative and presidential elections.

“Especially for Ganjar, who has consistently topped the opinion surveys of potential presidential candidates, his anti-Israel narrative is a display of loyalty to the party, while proving his Islamic credentials to voters. In fact, PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri has not made her mind about her choice of presidential candidate. Such resistance sounds “normal” if it comes from Muslim-based parties.

“Only this time around, the PDI-P is making a big fuss of the Israel issue while it was silent about the Knesset delegation’s presence in the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which the House of Representatives hosted in Bali in March last year.

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“The PDI-P, too, was quiet when Israel assured itself of a ticket to Indonesia in July last year. It seems Indonesian soccer has been unable to break the “curse” of political intervention”, The Jakarta Post concluded.

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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Governing Bodies

Tinubu backs Amaju’s FIFA Council re-election bid

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Former Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president, Amaju Pinnick has secured the backing of Nigeria’s President,  Bola Tinubu in his bid to get another term in office as one of Africa’s representatives in FIFA Council.

The 37-member FIFA  Council is the main decision making body of the organisation in the intervals of FIFA Congress. 

Pinnick is the third Nigerian to ever sit in the FIFA Council after Oyo Orok Oyo (1980-1988) and Dr. Amos Adamu (2006-2010).

Pinnick was elected into the council on 12 March 2021. He is bidding for re-election in 2025 when the current term lapses.

According to a media release from the State House and signed by Chief Ajuri Ngelale, the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity,

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President Bola Tinubu expresses strong support for Nigeria’s bid for re-election into the FIFA Council

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Governing Bodies

Save Our Soccer, African Sports Journalists plead with Motsepe

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

An SOS has been sent by the International Sports Press – Africa (AIPS -Africa) to the President of Confederation of African Football (CAF), Dr. Patrice Motsepe to save the soul of African soccer.

 The sports writers’ body has written an open letter to Motsepe on the need to do more to save African football.

The letter, written Monday in Dakar, is premised on the recurring scheduling problems that “have made CAF a victim of collateral damage from the “war” between UEFA and FIFA.”

Continuing in the letter signed by AIPS-Africa President, Abdoulaye Thiam, the sports writers’ body noted that UEFA contributed to overloading of the international calendar with the creation of the Nations League, which is played on FIFA dates

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Owing to the congested international calendar, football competitions in Africa have been major victims.

AIPS wrote: …”the stuttering and uncertainties surrounding the programming of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) leave many wondering about the future of our continent’s most prestigious competition, which is struggling to find a place in the international calendar.

“Added to this, the external influences and the overload of the international calendar, modelled on the European interests, increases the scepticism surrounding the survival of CAF’s most lucrative and economically viable tournament.

“As a result, therefore, it is rare, if not impossible, for an African team to find a European team to spar with, except when they share the same group in a World Cup draw every four years.     

“As for FIFA, in addition to the Arab World Cup, it has also created the Club World Cup. Worse still, it decided to stage the latter competition from June 15 to July 13, 2025, a period initially chosen by Morocco to host the AFCON 2025. In fact, Cairo’s dependence on Zurich enabled FIFA’s latest competition to happily shake up the 67-year-old African Cup of Nations.”

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Also affected by the global football calendar are the scheduling of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and African Women’s Champions League.

The journalists recalled that the changing of AFCON tournaments from the even-ending years to the odd  was to avert situations of clashing with World Cup years and to avert exhaustion on players.

The situation is such that scheduling of tournaments in Africa is now determined by compromise reached with UEFA and FIFA.

AIPS averred that “it is important to deconstruct the image of Africa as a prominent stakeholder in the global game with huge voice of 54 member associations and votes being presented as an electoral cattle-tank, to be adequately given their fair share during debates and dialogues with FIFA, by offering constructive solutions with a view to accelerating a reform of the international calendar.

“It is therefore expected from CAF leaders to ensure respect for African Football which is full of great administrators and players alike…Mr. President (Motsepe), you claim to be a disciple of Nelson Mandela and a well respectable man. A man of principles. So do kindly refuse and remain our inspiration than anything else.”  

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Governing Bodies

Breaking! CAF’s axe falls on Eto’o

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Confederation of African Football (CAF) has imposed a fine of $200 thousand on Samuel Eto’o Fils, a former international footballer and President of Fédération Camerounaise de Football (‘’FECAFOOT’’).

  The fine is imposed on the FECAFOOT president for violating the principles of ethics, integrity and sportsmanship as provided in Article 2  paragraph 3 of the CAF Statutes.

He is found to have violated the said article by signing a Brand Ambassador contract with the company 1XBET in exchange for remuneration.

 He however escape sanction in a bigger allegation of match fixing and manipulation.

Eto’o faced charges of alleged manipulation of football matches and violating the principles of ethics and integrity.

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The Disciplinary Board ruled that there was insufficient proof to find him and Valentin Nkwain guilty of match manipulation.

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