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Date: 14 December 2018

  African - Soccer

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News Headlines

CAF must act now on 'dirty tricks' by some African teams

[Posted 08 Sep 2010]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
CAF has come under fire for failing to stamp its authority on ill-treatment of visiting teams

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has for some time now showed poor leadership on handling errant hosting teams and football federations who play 'dirty tricks' on visiting teams.

Complaints about ill-treatment of visiting clubs or national teams by hosting teams especially from West Africa and small pockets of North Africa is nothing new to African football. Yet the continent has waited for ages to see justice executed by the governing mother body on the continent, CAF.

The latest of such complaints have come from the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA), who have reacted angrily at the sub-standard reception and ill-treatment they received from their hosts Liberia before and after an AFCON qualifying match in Monrovia last weekend.

In a strongly worded protest letter to CAF, Zimbabwe complained that they were checked into a substandard hotel, a distance away from the stadium, and the hotel was without electricity and water.

The Zimbabwe delegation was then moved to another hotel only after midnight where players had to sleep on the floor apparently on the eve of an important match.

Zimbabwe correctly viewed all this as dirty tricks by their hosts. ZIFA called this "psychological treatment" by Liberia geared at demoralising the team ahead of a crucial Group A opener.

Zimbabwe has called for "appropriate sanctions" against Liberia.

On the field of play, Zimbabwe had reasons to feel hard-done by the Benin referee Kofi Codjia who allowed a goal scored after keeper Washington Arubi had been fouled by a Liberian striker. It is not clear if Zimbabwe's complaints include a protest against the "poor" officiating on the day.

Codjia was suspended for a period by CAF after he poorly handled a match at the Africa Cup of nations finals in Angola. He was accused by CAF of having failed to appropriately deal with an Algerian goalkeeper who head-butted him during a match. He issued only a yellow-card to the keeper instead of a straight-red as required in such circumstances.

There is a very real danger that if CAF does not act against such clear ill-treatment of visiting teams by their hosts, they may open doors for mob justice from angry fans during return matches.

Zimbabwe or any other affected team may be compelled to return the favour and book a team which could have ill-treated their national team, in a sub-standard hotel when their time to host that team comes.

We do not want to create such a scenario in our beloved game in Africa. Thats why there are governing bodies and rules to regulate the conduct of teams, federations and players on the field of play. 

Unfair treatment endured by visiting teams at the hands of the hosts and match officials in African soccer competitions are well documented.

In the CAF competitions such as the Champions League,Confederations Cup and even the AFCON matches, various teams have bemoaned poor standards of hotels used to accommodate visiting teams.

There have also been complaints that West African referees sometimes favour West African teams against teams from other regions such as East and Southern Africa.

In a CAF Champions league match between Supersport United of South  Africa and Heartland of Nigeria at the Rand stadium towards end of April this year, coach Gavin Hunt complained about what he termed "disgraceful officiating" by Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey.

During the same weekend, CAPS United of Zimbabwe played Warri Wolves of Nigeria in that country's delta region. The Zimbabwe club bemoaned the fact that they were booked into a two-star hotel as opposed to global standards of booking visiting teams in at least a three-star hotel.

CAPS also complained about the poor officiating by a West African referee Keita Yakhouba and his assistants Aboubacar Dambuya and Kabba Moussa Kintou who, in CAPS' opinion, was biased towards the home team.

CAF, in the eyes of many African national teams and clubs participating in the CAF competitions, has turned a deaf ear to complaints against hosting West African teams.

FIFA on the other hand, have proved to be better leaders of the game in stamping their authority in the governing of the game. In 1993, FIFA ordered a replay of a World Cup group qualifying match between Egypt and Zimbabwe for apparent ill-treatment of the Southern African team on the field of play.

In a last Group C qualifying match in April 1993, Egypt needed to beat Zimbabwe to qualify for the final stages of World Cup qualification. Zimbabwe were group leaders then with 9 points and Egypt had 7 points.

During the match in Cairo, the Zimbabwean goalkeeper was stoned by irrate fans who were angry at what they regarded as time-wasting by the Zimbabweans. The Warriors coach, the late Reinhardt Fabisch, was also stoned and TV images showed him bleeding profusely.

FIFA, as good governors of the world's biggest sport, punished Egypt by ordering a replay of a match they had won 2-1 under those controversial circumstances. The match was played at a neutral venue in France.

Zimbabwe and Egypt drew the match 0-0, with the result that Zimbabwe progressed to the next round of the World Cup qualifiers ahead of Egypt, where they were eventually eliminated by Cameroon. 

CAF should learn from FIFA on how to stamp their authority or at least act fairly in matters involving all its affiliates regardless of what regions the club or national team comes from on the African continent.

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