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2020 Review: Five key incidents for African football

2020 Review: Five key incidents for African football
Cameroonian former President of the Confederation of African Football CAF Issa Hayatou (L) and Cameroonian President Ahmad Ahmad (C) shake hands   -  
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African Football

The African football landscape had a number of major occurrences over the course of the year, from tournament cancellations, a historic player of the year win, leadership campaign and a FIFA ban on CAF boss.

As part of our 2020 review, we look back at five top news items in Africa’s world of sports for 2020.

November: CAF president banned from football

The head of Confederation of African Football (CAF), Ahmad Ahmad, was late this year banned from football for five years by FIFA’s adjudicatory chamber. The decision came following an ethics investigation by world soccer’s governing body.

FIFA said in a statement the independent Ethics Committee had found Ahmad guilty of offering and accepting gifts and other benefits, and misappropriation of funds.

Ahmad had declared his intention to seek re-election as the continent’s football chief in March 2021. He has confirmed he will be appealing the ruling.

March: CAF postpones AFCON 2021

The Executive Committee of the Confederation of African Football, CAF, postponed the 2021 Africa

Cup of Nations, AFCON to January 2022 citing the coronavirus pandemic. The tournament had been scheduled to take place between January and February 2021. The football governing body, however decided that the local version of the AFCON, the Championship of African Nations, CHAN, will take place in January 2021.

It had originally been slated to be played in April this year. Both competitions will be hosted by Cameroon. Cameroon suspended the CHAN in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The local organizing committee after a meeting announced the decision to suspend the competition which would have taken place between April 4 – 25.

CHAN is a version of the African Cup of Nations but is reserved for players that ply their trade on the continent. The current champions are Morocco who beat Nigeria in the final of the last tournament in 2018.

March: FIFA reschedules congress slated for Ethiopia

In March, football’s world governing body, FIFA, announced rescheduling its 70th Congress that was scheduled for May 2020 at the African Union’s headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. At the time, FIFA said it will be moved to September 2020 in Addis Ababa. It has still not taken place.

An official statement issued on March 11 read in part: “On account of the spread of COVID-19, numerous international bodies and public health authorities have advised against the organisation of international events.

Concerns over the health and well-being of participants, as well as travel restrictions in many countries, have resulted in the cancellation or postponement of many such events in various parts of the world.

Mindful of this, and given the wish of FIFA to organise a Congress which all member associations are able to attend, the Bureau of the FIFA Council has decided to reschedule the 70th FIFA Congress from Friday 5 June 2020 to Friday 18 September 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

February: FIFA’s mission to clean African football ends

FIFA’s six months joint control of African soccer ended in February when Secretary-General Fatma Samoura’s temporary leadership of the continent’s governing body was not extended by CAF ExCo members.

Samoura was dispatched to CAF in August 2019 with the task of cleaning up the organization. FIFA also declared Samoura’s mission as “General Delegate for Africa” complete after a meeting of the CAF executive committee.

Changes implemented during Samoura’s mission include enhanced financial controls, better salaries for staff and new ethics structures, FIFA said. 

CAF president Ahmad Ahmad’s ethics probe was still underway at the time as he faced accusations of sexual harassment and bribery, as well as claims of personal and financial impropriety.

January: Mane finally wins African best award

Senegal and Liverpool forward Sadio Mane won the African best player 2019 award at an event in the Egyptian city of Hurghada on January 7. He became the final awardee for the decade 2010 -2019.

He succeeded Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah who was also shortlisted along with Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez.

Mane helped his club side win the UEFA Champions League in the 2018/2019 season and was captain of the Senegal side that lost the 2019 AFCON to Algeria in Egypt. He eventually helped club side Liverpool to a historic Premier League trophy.

It was the fourth straight time that he had been shortlisted for the award. He lost in 2016 to Gabon’s Aubameyang (at the time with Dortmund), then missed out to Salah twice in 2017 and 2018.