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Ethiopian athletics legend to run in South Sudan

Posted ANDUALEM SISAY in Addis Ababa

on  Wednesday, March 22   2017 at  11:21

Ethiopian athletics legend Haile Gebrselassie is set to participate in the inaugural Great South Sudanese Run in Juba on April 8.

Gebrselassie, who is also part of the organising committee of the South Sudanese race, made the announcement in Addis Ababa Tuesday.

The Olympic Gold medallist is the founder and chairperson of the Great Ethiopian Run.

The Great South Sudanese Run's main objective is to promote peace in the war-torn country that was facing famine, according to the organisers, who include the Ethiopian Great Run and Ayesheshim Teka- an Ethiopian investor in South Sudan.

Peace and unity

Some 5,000 participants are expected to take part in the 10km run that will be made an annual event to promote sports, peace and unity.

Ayesheshim said the initiative was an added support to the peoples of South Sudan who share blood, religion, culture and a long border with Ethiopia.

He said the two countries enjoyed flourishing ties and a long history of collaboration and partnership.

Famine and poverty

The race organisers said it will bring diverse people together and promote peace in support of the Juba government's extensive work to restore unity and stability.

The slogan for the run is; Fundraising for famine and poverty fighting.

The Great Ethiopian Run ranks among the biggest road races in Africa.

With 40,000 participants every November in Addis Ababa, the Great Ethiopian Run has several years of experience handling such events at home and other African counties, including Ghana and Liberia, according to Gebrselassie.

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MTN resumes Cameroon soccer sponsorship

Posted NDI EUGENE NDI in Yaoundé

on  Tuesday, March 21   2017 at  12:21

The local subsidiary of South Africa mobile telecom MTN said it will resume sponsorship of the Cameroon soccer league.

MTN Cameroon CEO Philisiwe Sibiya said the firm would also sponsor two other championships, five years after it backed out allegedly due to poor relations with the country’s football authorities.

Sibiya made the disclosure after a meeting with the Secretary General at the Presidency of Cameroon, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh.

The MTN Cameroon CEO told the press that the mobile telecommunications network firm was ready to sign a contract with the Professional Football League of Cameroon (LFPC) for a three-year deal.

The passion

“We will be sponsoring the Premier League One and Two. We are hoping that it is going to go beyond just three years. As Africans, we all share the passion of football,” Sibiya said.

The firm sponsored the Cameroon Premier League from 2002, but backed out a decade later and since then, the national divisions One and Two championships have been limping due to lack of sponsorship.

The launching of the 2016/2017 football season, for instance, witnessed repeated postponements largely due to logistics and financial deficiency.

Financial package

The telecom gave financial support and invested in sports infrastructure in the previous deal.

It helped in promoting sports in Cameroon, especially football through a total financial package of $11.5 million for the organisation of the League One and Two from 2002-2012; about $1.2 million annually.

MTN also rehabilitated Mbouda and Guider stadiums in the west and north Cameroon.

Though the telecom giant’s new sponsorship was yet to be signed, soccer promoters in the five-times African football champions see the resumption of sponsorship as a sigh of relief.

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Fifa bans Ghanaian referee for life

Posted BBC

on  Monday, March 20   2017 at  19:15

Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey has been banned for life by Fifa for what it calls "match manipulation".

The ban results from a penalty he awarded to South Africa in a 2-1 win over Senegal in a 2018 World Cup qualifier in November.

He penalised Kalidou Koulibaly for handball, but replays showed the ball hit his knee.

Football's world governing body says it will give more details "once the decision becomes final and binding".

Can now appeal

Lamptey can now appeal to Fifa and the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

One his assistants, David Laryea, also from Ghana, had charges against him dismissed by Fifa's disciplinary committee.

The win for South Africa left them in second place in the four-team group after two matches, with Senegal in third.

Lamptey, who also officiated at the Rio Olympics last year, declined BBC Sport's invitation to comment, saying he would do so later.

Warn everybody

The Senegal Football Federation (FSF), who made a complaint to Fifa over Lamptey, is happy with the decision.

"Today there are many reasons to be happy about this decision - a decision that will be remembered as being significant but will also warn everybody that they are being watched," FSF vice-president Abdoulaye Sow told BBC Sport.

"All cheating and stealing will be punished according to its gravity.

"Fifa has clearly struck a big blow and has promised in its decision to talk again about the match when the decision is final and binding."

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The man who holds the future of African football in his hands

Posted PIERS EDWARDS

on  Saturday, March 18   2017 at  19:32

When the idea was first put to Madagascar's Ahmad that he could lead the Confederation of African Football (Caf) one day, his riposte was succinct.

"'You are crazy', I told them," the new Caf president told BBC Sport.

A few months on, the 57-year-old holds the future of the African game in his hands.

He sent shockwaves throughout Africa on Thursday when managing what no one else ever had - beating Issa Hayatou, who took power in 1988, in a Caf election.

Prior to announcing his candidacy in January, few had ever heard of Ahmad.

Seeking his job

But the reason he was approached by 15 or so FA presidents from across the continent - first in May, and then again in September (when the seed started to germinate) - was because he was on the Executive Committee (ExCo).

And after Hayatou oversaw a rule change in 2012, seen by many as a plot to prevent a rival seeking his job, only voting members of the ExCo can run for the presidency.

So who exactly is Ahmad, what does he hope to achieve during his four-year spell in charge and how did he rise to power?

Firstly, Ahmad - who goes by just the one name - once played and coached in Madagascar's top division.

Ventured into politics

After quitting football, he ultimately ventured into politics - holding positions as his country's minister of sport, and then of fisheries - before becoming a parliamentary senator, a role he still holds today.

After becoming Madagascar FA president in 2003, he was elected onto Caf's ExCo 10 years later - before, in January, he confirmed rumours by announcing he was challenging Hayatou.

"At the beginning, I heard the comments of people - 'he's nothing, he's like a joke,'" he told BBC Sport.

Today, the 'joker' is king and holding all the aces.

Ahmad wants improved governance, greater transparency and to develop African football from the grassroots up.

Lot of expenses

"The first thing is reform of administration: good governance, financial transparency and to redistribute the Caf money - not only keep it in the office," he told BBC Sport.

As Caf revealed on Thursday, its finances are healthy - with $108m in cash and $131m in equity.

For cash-strapped Malawi, who briefly withdrew from the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations because of financial concerns, the redistribution cannot come soon enough.

"The member associations will now have a chance to enjoy the wealth that Caf has had all these years," Malawi FA boss Walter Nyamilandu told BBC Sport.

"We have been marginalised, suffering a lot, paying a lot of expenses for our national teams and exerting unnecessary pressure on our governments. It is now time to be inclusive."

Ahmad also wants to reorganise Caf's competitions, which could mean the expansion of many, including the flagship Nations Cup - 'an idea,' admits Ahmad.

Under Hayatou, secrecy was the watchword when it came to financial dealings but Ahmad's stance is entirely in contrast.

'All contracts signed by Caf will be officially published and their amounts communicated by media releases,' his manifesto boldly pledged.

'Caf will be fully transparent with regards to finances, management and its competitions. Nothing will be hidden or covered during my mandate.'

With that in mind, the BBC can reveal that a Caf insider says the eight-year deal signed with energy company Total last year is worth 'about $190m'.

Having declared that long-term contracts should be 'banished,' could Caf's agency deal with Lagardere - worth a whopping $1 billion to the African football body, and which runs from 2017-2028 - be at risk?

"I can't talk about that because I've never seen the contract. I have to look at all of this," he said on Friday.

Financial audit

"My duty is to protect the interest of Caf."

Following his election, Ahmad said his first step would be a thorough managerial and financial audit of the Cairo-based organisation.

To develop the African game to its ultimate potential, he wants to open talks with a range of personnel - 'legends, stars, coaches, referees' etc. - boost women's and youth football as well as, among other measures, stop the talent drain of Africans overseas.

Crucially, with half a dozen of Ahmad's supporters elected onto a new-look ExCo in place of Hayatou's men, the Malagasy has the backing to push through his reforms.

He succeeded because of an overwhelming desire for change among the voters and, says Ahmad, 'government authorities' too.

Potential kingmaker

So long had Hayatou's reign - encompassing 29 of Caf's 60 years - been that the hashtag 'Hayatoumustfall' circulated on social media.

Yet had Gianni Infantino not won last year's Fifa presidential elections, beating Sheikh Salman of Bahrain - who Caf had publicly asked its members to support, Ahmad may not even have run.

"It's one of the arguments that pushed me to go for this election," he told me on Tuesday.

Infantino emerged as a potential kingmaker when attending a party in Harare hosted by Ahmad's campaign manager Phillip Chiyangwa, in what was seen as a sign of support for Hayatou's rival.

"(Infantino) could not go back and support people who did not support him (in the 2016 Fifa elections) - it doesn't make sense," Dennis Idrissa, one of Ahmad's campaign team, told BBC Sport.

Twists and turns

"But he did not interfere - he stayed as the president - but in his heart, he liked change."

Members of Hayatou's camp have argued otherwise. Infantino has denied any collusion.

Just like the latter's speech which swayed many voters in Fifa's presidential elections of February 2016, Ahmad spoke in various languages while also promising more cash to member associations (and business class travel) as he addressed delegates before the vote.

"It was a statement full of promises," said Lesotho's Khiba Mohoanyane. "Ahmad's speech changed the mood of the house."

Outgoing president

Minutes later, a campaign full of twists and turns - threats and accusations - ended in a 34-20 win for the Malagasy.

Perhaps fittingly, the last man to vote was Zimbabwe FA boss Chiyangwa , who is also president of southern African football region Cosafa.

Cosafa led the call for change and one wonders what would have happened had outgoing president Suketu Patel, a Hayatou ally down the years, decided to contest Cosafa's elections in December - since his absence ultimately handed Chiyangwa a platform upon which he screamed for change.

Will the Egyptian legal case against both Hayatou, 70, and secretary general Hicham El Amrani quietly fade away?

Full member

Brought by the once little-known Egyptian Competitions Authority, Caf has firmly dismissed allegations its deal with Lagardere broke the country's anti-monopoly laws.

In a statement earlier this week, the African football body accused Egyptians of trying to tarnish Hayatou's reputation in the run-up to the vote. Whatever the truth, the Cameroonian has now gone.

In one small way, Ahmad can already claim to wield more power than his predecessor.

After Zanzibar was voted in as Caf's latest full member, Africa now has 55 votes at Fifa - so enlarging its status as the most powerful continental voting bloc in world football.

Finally, one thing about his reign is absolutely certain.

He won't be around for three decades since a recent rule change means the maximum tenure for a Caf president is now three terms - or twelve years. (BBC Sport)

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Malawi withdraw from continental contest

Posted FRANK KANDU

on  Sunday, March 12   2017 at  18:54

Malawi announced they were was pulling out of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) citing financial constraints and the non-availability of a national team coach.

The Football Association of Malawi (FAM) released a statement after the Malawi government refused the FA permission to hire an expatriate coach.

The FA had proposed the hiring of a foreign coach on a 50-50 cost sharing agreement with government.

Financial grounds

After months of consultation, the government through the Ministry of Sport, rejected FAM's proposal on financial grounds.

A meeting of the FAM executive committee then agreed that Malawi should withdraw from the two continental competitions.

"Having considered all the available options, and in accordance with required notices for withdrawal, it was further resolved that the Malawi National Senior Football team be withdrawn from CHAN Competition by 31st March, and from AFCON by 30th April 2017, due to lack of funding."

The winners

Malawi were drawn against Madagascar in their opening match of the 2018 CHAN qualifying campaign which gets underway in April.

They were set to meet the winners of the tie between Comoros and Mauritius at home on June 13 in their first 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

Malawi have been without a national coach since September 2016 when Burundian Nsanzurwimo Ramadhan took charge for just one match, leading the Flames to a 1-0 victory over Swaziland in a 2017 Nations Cup qualifier.

He had taken charge following the sacking of Ernest Mtawali in July of the same year.

The finances

Malawi's withdrawal from both the Nations Cup and CHAN is expected to attract a hefty fine from the Confederation of African Football (Caf) but FAM General Secretary Alfred Gunda said it would be better to pay the fine than remain in competitions which the country cannot afford.

'If we are avoiding the fines then it means we should have the finances to participate which are much more huge, so with that we will look around and see how best we can pay the fines"

"We may need to negotiate on paying the fines in instalments although we know it will have to be ourselves (FAM) to foot the fines" he said. (BBC Sport)

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Cameroon recall Choupo-Moting after Afcon snub

Posted NDI EUGENE NDI in Yaoundé

on  Sunday, March 12   2017 at  16:56

Cameroon striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has been recalled to the national team two months after the Indomitable Lions won the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.

The former deputy captain of the five times African champions was among the 23 players called to camp to prepare for two friendlies this month.

The Indomitable Lions take on hosts Tunisia on March 24 in Monastir and Guinea on March 28 in Brussels.

The 27-year-old Schalke04 forward was among the seven players who declined coach Hugo Broos’s call-up for Gabon tournament.

Liverpool

Others included Liverpool central defender Joel Matip and West Bromwich’s Allan Nyom.

Schalke04 said then that Choupo-Moting’s decision was “for personal reasons”.

“The 27-year-old will still be available for Cameroon in the future,” the club said in a statement early January.

The squad

Choupo-Moting has represented Cameroon 41 times and scored 11 goals in six years.

His first call-up was in 2010 when he joined the squad that represented Cameroon at the World Cup in South Africa that year.

Choupo-Moting’s return to the Indomitable Lions comes as defender Nicolas Nkoulou, who scored one of the two goals that saw Cameroon edge Egypt at the Afcon 2017 final, said he will take a break from international football.

Club objectives

The 26-year-old, who has represented the national team 74 times in nine years, said he has “a sense of having accomplished my duty for country” after lifting the continental trophy in Gabon.

He was called up by the national team for the first time in November 2008.

Nkoulou, who has been a bench warmer for French Ligue 1 club Olympique Lyon since moving from Marseille last summer, said the break will enable him to concentrate on club objectives.

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IAAF official quits over corruption claim

Posted BBC Sport

on  Tuesday, March 7   2017 at  13:21

Four-time Olympic silver medallist Frankie Fredericks has stepped down from a key role at athletics' world governing body after corruption claims.

IAAF council member Fredericks, also a member of the International Olympic Committee, has left a taskforce helping Russia as it bids to be readmitted to international competition.

His decision comes after French paper Le Monde claimed the former Namibia sprinter received a payment days before voting on the 2016 Olympics host city, allegations he denies.

The integrity

The IOC is investigating the claims.

"I have decided to step aside from the taskforce so that the integrity of its work is not questioned due to the allegations made against me in Le Monde," said 49-year-old Fredericks.

"It is important that the taskforce's mission is seen as free and fair with no outside influence."

Doping programme

Russia's athletes were banned last year following the McLaren report, which outlined a state-sponsored doping programme.

The IAAF says Fredericks' place on the five-person taskforce has been taken by IAAF Athletes' Commission chairperson Rozle Prezelj.

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Zambia's Bwalya exits Fifa Council race

Posted BBC Sport

on  Saturday, March 4   2017 at  19:31

Zambia's former African Footballer of the Year, Kalusha Bwalya, has withdrawn from the race for a place on the Fifa Council - less than two weeks before the elections for African representatives.

Bwalya was voted Africa's top footballer in 1988 and then become president of Zambia's FA before he was unseated in last year's elections.

He said he was pulling out to concentrate on winning re-election to the African governing body's executive committee.

The race

Elections for African places on the new-look Fifa Council will be held at the Confederation of African Football (Caf) Congress in Addis Ababa on March 16, at the same time as the Caf executive committee vote.

Bwalya was initially standing for places on both bodies but told reporters: "I have decided to withdraw from the race, to concentrate on retaining my ex-co position."

Bwalya was one of three candidates for the place on the Fifa Council reserved for a representative from Africa's Anglophone countries.

Female representative

His withdrawal leaves a straight fight between Ghana Football Association president Kwesi Nyantakyi and Leodegar Tenga of Tanzania.

Africa has seven places on the Fifa Council, which has been renamed and expanded since Gianni Infantino came to power one year ago.

One place is automatically reserved for the Caf president and another for a female representative.

The other five places will be decided in Ethiopia on March 16.