The world of football has been thrown into turmoil, following allegations emanating from London that six members of the Federation Internationale de Football (FIFA) Executives demanded bribes as a condition for voting for the 2022 World Cup host, Qatar.
The allegations were made by former chairman of the England 2018 World Cup Bid, Lord Triesman, and re-echoed by British Members of Parliament. Unfortunately for Africa, the sleaze allegation hits at the very top of continental football.
Mr. Issa Hayatou, the Cameroonian who has led African football from the front since 1988, and Jacques Anouma of Cote d'Ivoire, Executive Member of the Confederation of African Football and FIFA, received $1.5 million to vote for Qatar. Six other FIFA executive members from outside the African continent are also cited.
Coming from England, which lost the bid to stage the 2018 World Cup to Russia, it would be easier to dismiss the allegation as sour grapes. But, against the background of similar allegations against Amos Adamu of Nigeria and Tahiti's Reynald Temari, who were banned by FIFA from global football activities for three years, the allegation from England hits at the heart of African football.
At this point in time, it is too early to make any definitive statements about the allegation. We believe it is right that FIFA President Sepp Blatter has called for an enquiry. We hope the findings would help reform the game.
While we wait for the enquiry and its findings, The Chronicle would like to observe that football has in recent times been awash with too much money. The temptations are great. But, is there any particular reason why Africans are almost always cited in sleaze matters in international football?
We would like to believe that after 23 years of being at the helm of the management of African football, Issa Hayatou has played his part. He has overseen tremendous improvement in the quality of the game in Africa. Under his watch, Africa has won the right, and indeed, staged the World Cup in South Africa in 2010.
Three African nations - Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana have all reached the quarter-final stage of the World Cup. African junior teams have won the Under 17 World Cup on several occasions. In 2009, Ghana defeated the almighty Brazil to win the Under-20 World Cup for the first time for Africa.
Hayatou has played his part in the African football renaissance. We congratulate him for the continent's great stride. We would like to believe, though, that it is now time for him to leave the African Football House in Cairo.
We are not suggesting that he may be guilty of the sleaze charge. We are of the view that the scandal is not the very best means of selling the African football product, especially, when the leader of the renaissance is mentioned in such terms.
He has been around for too long. Familiarity, they say, breeds contempt. That is why the President of the Confederation of African Football should clear his name of this sordid allegation, and pack his bag and baggage out of the Cairo head office of African football.
It is in his own interest to leave before he is caught up in an even more scandalous allegation. Issa Hayatou should not make himself available for re-election at the next CAF Congress. If he does, he should be voted out of the system.