Blog: No Pressure here, Africa move at your own pace
The top brass of African football, The CAF Executive Committee will meet today in Paris France after CAF President Ahmad Ahmad decided to call an Emergency meeting following the fracas that surrounded the second leg of the CAF Champions League final.
CAF confirmed the development on their official website on June 1st, A day after what has been dubbed as the worst CAF Champions League final in the history of the Competition.
“Following the events held during the second leg of the final match in the frame of the Total CAF Champions League 2018/2019 and after the match was stopped, the CAF President Ahmad Ahmad decided to call an Emergency Executive Committee on 4th of June. The agenda to be discussed will be the regulatory solutions regarding this match.”
The Champions League final second leg tie was abandoned after the Video Assisted Referee (VAR) system failed to work despite being set up at the
Stade Olympique de Radès, Radès.
The match was halted for about 62 minutes after Wydad Casablanca refused to play when VAR was unavailable to judge a disallowed a Wydad Casablanca goal. Walid El Karti headed home for Casablanca in the 59th minute, leveling the aggregate score at 2-2, but the referee wrongly ruled his effort out for offside.
VAR was set up on the side of the pitch despite officials knowing it was not working two hours before kick off. The players were however unaware of the situation. The Wydad players and officials protested and After an hour of uncertainty Gambian referee, Bakary Gassama decided to blow the full-time whistle, handing a 2-1 victory and the title to Espérance.
THE CAF EXCO MEETING
As earlier indicated in the commuqué from CAF the meeting will discuss regulatory solutions regarding the CAF Champions league final among other issues. According to France Football, one of the discussions (possible solutions) at today’s Emergency Caf Executive Committee meeting is having only one CAF Champions League final at a Neutral Venue.
The single final model at a neutral venue has already been given a try when last season’s Caf Confederation Cup winners Raja Casablanca beat Tunisian club Esperance 2-1 at the 20,000 seater Thani Bin Jassim Stadium in Doha, Qatar earlier this year.
IS IT REALISTIC
Africa has been known to copy almost anything that Europe does. For starters, the calendar change from February to November to the August to May system is nothing but a pure copycat of the European system.
There is nothing wrong with copying what Europe is doing when it is viable and can work in the African setup but there is everything wrong with looking to find a ‘quick fix’ by way of copying what is working in Europe.
Can we honestly guarantee that a final at Heroes Stadium in Lusaka Zambia between Zamalek and Mouloudia Club d’Alger will have the desired attendance? or a final at the National Stadium in Abuja, Nigeria between Mamelodi Sundowns and Raja Casablanca?.
The first thing to note is that Africa as a continent is just too vast. Europes total size by area is 10.18 million km² while Africas total size is 30.37 million km² which is 3 times bigger than Europe.
The central African Republic which is ranked 21st in Africa is even bigger in size than Ukraine which is Europe’s second biggest country based on size. Europe is a small continent and that helps the system of a one-off final as fans can easily travel.
Travel Complications and Cost
Traveling in Africa is tedious and takes up too much time. A quick survey online to travel to Tunisia from Lusaka takes 24hours and one has to first go to Europe (Germany) before finally connecting to Tunisia. In terms of cost according to today’s exchange rate the flight would cost K33 000 ( $2,488) one way Economy.
In comparison to Europe, the most expensive plane ticket from one extreme end of Europe to the next is around K8,389 (€568). In 2018 the gross domestic product (GDP) of Europe was almost ten times as that of Africa.
On whatever scale you measure this new idea Africa is just not ready to have a one-off final.
The CAF Executive Committee can take a leaf from the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) who in December 2018 refused to automatically join the bandwagon of Southern African soccer governing bodies who embraced football calendar changes in line with the major leagues in the world as well as the amendments in the CAF calendar.
Malawi had in the early 2000s tried to align themselves with the European system but they could not sustain it as local issues like heavy rainfall made it near impossible to do so.
“We switched to the current Malawi calendar because, much as we were trying to align ourselves with the international calendar, we had some local reasons as most of our matches were affected by rains between December and February. So we will do a proper analysis to see if it will be practical to get back to that route,” FAM competitions and media director Gomezgani Zakazaka told the Malawi Nation
The CAF Executive Committee should find long term solutions to the problem and not just finding a quick fix people which will again in the future need to be changed. We should be careful as a continent, We already took as a joke so we don’t have to give the world more reasons to treat us as such.
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