Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
THREE weeks after assuming office, CAF president Ahmad is getting down to serious business and has revealed that they are reviewing the African Cup of Nations calendar and the 12-year broadcasting deal as the continental soccer body begins sweeping changes that have followed the fall of Issa Hayatou from power.
Ahmad is in South Africa, where he met with COSAFA president Philip Chiyangwa and the regional body’s leadership in Sandton yesterday.
The new CAF boss, who was flanked by Chiyangwa and South African Football Association president Danny Jordan told a media conference that the continental body was seriously looking at the viability of continuing to play the biennial African Cup of Nations under the same calendar of January-February.
Ahmad said the decisions on the continental game’s television rights and tournament hosting agreements will be the focus of discussion in the months ahead.
The timing of the African Nations Cup finals has often caused serious problems and friction between associations and clubs, with footballers playing in professional leagues, in Europe in particular, being forced to abandon their teams at a delicate stage of the season.
West African giants Cameroon had to dig deep into their reservoirs to win the 2017 Nations Cup in Gabon after seven of their players opted to stay at their European clubs rather than join the Indomitable Lions at the tournament. There have also been several cases of club-versus-country disputes each time there is a Nations Cup tournament and Ahmad said his executive would also consult the media among a host of stakeholders as they seek to review the calendar.
“I will be discussing with as many stakeholders as there are around African football to come up with the best solution for the problems,” Ahmad said
Ahmad, who swept into power on March 16 following a convincing 34-20 victory over Issa Hayatou, also raised serious concern over the 12-year television deal that CAF signed last year with French-based Lagardere Sports.
“This contract is the subject of a judicial challenge in the Egyptian courts at the moment and it was to protect the integrity of CAF in this issue that the general-secretary Hicham (El Amrani) submitted his resignation, which we accepted,” he said.
“We will investigate, but I am concerned about the length of the contract. I would never sign anything for longer than three years.
The contract was signed by the previous CAF President. Right now there are procedures against this contract, we just got elected and I have appointed people to look after this contract, people who are specialised in TV and in marketing, to study this case about the contract,’’ Ahmad said.
The new CAF boss has been preaching transparency and strategic changes since he officially assumed duty on March 26 and yesterday he also said he is awaiting the analysis of those who have been appointed to study the broadcasting contract, but explained that there is unanimous agreement that it is not a good deal for the continent.
“We’re living in an environment where everything must be transparent and with a democracy. The new CAF will follow up with everything that is not transparent or democratic.
“This is why I’m waiting for the analysis to come back to me before I make any decision.
“Everyone is completely agreed that it is not a good contract and it is not good for African football’’.
CAF, who have previously denied any wrongdoing, have been criticised after reportedly brokering the partnership without allowing any other bidders to get involved, with Hayatou and El Amrani being targeted for legal action.
Ahmad also spoke about the need to review the manner in which youth tournaments are staged with a view to have the Under-17 and Under-20 teams competing on a zonal basis.
If Ahmad’s plan sails through, those zonal champions would then secure tickets to such competitions like the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, with the CAF boss expected to take some of his proposed restructuring programmes to the FIFA Congress in Bahrain on May 11.
Chiyangwa also said many countries on the continent were not happy with the distribution of tournament hosting decisions undertaken by CAF under the Hayatou regime, which were largely biased towards Francophone Africa.
The ZIFA president, who reiterated his support for Ahmad, said the manner in which CAF was operating had become a hindrance to the development of young players from across the continent.
But with Hayatou out of the way, the changes have begun to be effected at CAF, with high hopes that they will usher in a new era for African football and help the continent reach its full potential.
Meanwhile Ahmad was on Wednesday reportedly honoured by the government of Madagascar, with the CAF boss bestowed with the national award for his election as the head of continent’s football governing body at a function in Antananarivo.
During the occasion, Ahmad was elevated to the rank of Grand Officer of the National Order by Madagascar President Hery Rajaonarimampianina at a colourful ceremony that was attended by high ranking government officials.