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31.03.2004 Confederation Cup

Abedi Blames CAF, FIFA for Poor Refereeing in Africa

By Times of Zambia
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GHANA Football Federation (GFA) vice-president and three-time winner of the African Footballer of the Year award Abedi Pele has implored Confederation of African Football (CAF) and world soccer governing body FIFA to appoint efficient and committed officials to handle games for the sake of the game's development.

Pele said this here last night when he paid a courtesy call on the Zambia under-23 soccer team after their elimination from the Athens Olympics following their 2-0 defeat to Ghana in Kumasi on Sunday.

Pele said the poor African refereeing standards had contributed to the continuing falling standards of the game and called upon CAF and FIFA to incorporate former players.

"In Africa we are all fighting for the refereeing standards to be improved and I am not surprised that's what happened. I did not watch the game myself because I was committed elsewhere.

"This is a disease in African football which needs to be cured but we don't have the cure yet. CAF and FIFA should get very efficient officials then things will be organised, like if they got ex-players," said Pele.

He also said that CAF was still struggling to reach the expected officiating levels as was the case in European football and that he was testimony after having played there.

Pele, who is also in charge of all Ghanaian national teams, said "Things must change. We all played in Europe but until we change, we will continue having these problems. CAF is also not up to the level that people expect it to be."

Pele, who spoke highly of Zambian football, also appealed to Africans to change their attitude towards the game, saying national organisations had also been a part of these problems.

He also hailed Kalusha's getting into FAZ and implored all ex-footballers to take up the challenge of helping in running their respective associations.

The GFA vice-president also said that Zambia still had a bright future as far as football was concerned and urged the under-23 side not to despair for failing to make it to the August Athens games.

"They shouldn't worry because the future is bright for them. I am told they played football like I have never seen them before. We were afraid but it happened that we were on the winning side.

"Africa is very blessed to have a lot of intelligent people and the day we will change our attitude things will change. This happens even in organisations, unfortunately," he said.

Pele also encouraged Kalusha to be strong in facing up to people's criticism of his dual role, adding that he equally had encountered similar opposition in Ghana when making certain decisions.

He said he felt as a former player, and his being involved in the national executive and coaching of the team, was an inspiration to the young players who needed people to look up to.

"In the African continent we need that kind of transition and we have to fight for it. I know there will be a lot of pressure on Kalu that he can't do it but he needs to be strong because his experience will benefit Zambia a lot.

"He is a very intelligent guy who can handle it and handle it well. He will start by getting few results before he makes it. I support him 300 per cent and I would have come for the elections to support him but when I heard that he had gone through unopposed, I stayed put," Pele said.

He added that when former players were involved in the running of the game at an administrative level, they had a better understanding of things.

Pele also hailed the Ghanaian people for being patient with the federation in its ongoing football development pragrammes, saying results were now being achieved.

He hailed the Ghanaian under-23 squad for qualifying to the Olympics, saying: "It is about time Ghana qualified because many things have gone on and we decided to change from the grassroots. What we were committed to, people didn't understand but the qualification has made people understand."