Monday, December 11, 2023

Africa plays ‘wait and see’ as preferred FIFA candidate loses

Botswana Football Association (BFA) President, Tebogo Sebego says Africa will have to ‘wait and see’ whether the newly elected FIFA presidency will maintain focus on protecting the interests of the continent’s football. His statement follows the loss Africa’s preferred candidate, Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khaifa, who lost his FIFA Presidential bid to Europe backed Gianni Infantino in a ballot that pitted Africa and Asia against the rest of the world.

While he admitted that backing a losing candidate may have bad repercussions for the continent, Sebego expressed hope that this will not come to pass as the winning candidate promised to be a President of all football associations. He explained that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) decided to back Shaikh Salman ahead of Infantino because they had concerns on whether a UEFA backed candidate would have total control over FIFA or be a stooge of Europe.

“Our concerns as Africa were borne out of the fact that Infantino was financially backed by European countries in his Presidential campaign. UEFA is said to have given Infantino at least $500 000 to finance his campaign,” he said.

However, Sebego said he is hopeful that Infantino will assist Africa as per his campaign promises. During his campaign, Infantino promised to increase the development funds for member countries to $5million over a period of four years; a marked improvement from the $2million that was disbursed during the era of Sepp Blatter.

Why CAF didn’t back Sexwale

Meanwhile, Sebego explained that CAF did not back South Africa’s Tokyo Sexwale because of his ‘campaign deficiencies’ and failure to persuade the CAF Executive Committee that he was the right man for the job.

“We had always made it known that as the BFA we would support our fellow African, Tokyo Sexwale. We were part of the COSAFA meeting in South Africa last year where Sexwale made a presentation to state why he should be voted as FIFA President. Honestly, not much came out of his presentation to convince us,” said Sebego.

The BFA President further said Sexwale never made follow ups to try and further convince member countries with more information.

“We as Botswana never had that benefit. The least he could have done was to cross the border into Botswana and talk to us, but he never did,” he said.

Sebego further revealed that Sexwale once again failed to put together a convincing presentation when given a second chance to address the CAF Executive in Rwanda on the sidelines of the African Nations Championships (CHAN).

“This sent a clear message to us that we were backing the wrong horse,” he said.


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