Gianni Infantino has many supporters in Africa, having installed his relatives in key positions.
The president of Fifa, for whom Africa is of crucial importance if he wants to keep his post, nevertheless has more than questionable practices.
Some are starting to complain and demand accountability.
Gianni Infantino has a gift.
That of never being talked about well.
A World Cup project every two years, a legal investigation for, among other delicious accusations, incitement to abuse of authority, a hidden role of instigator in the drafting of the Super League… Nothing is going well with the former "UEFA bald", who went from being a simple good-natured performer in the Champions League draw to grand satan president of Fifa in 2016, replacing Sepp Blatter.
His latest feat?
Remarks, at best awkward, at worst insulting, during an intervention on Wednesday at the Council of Europe, to justify its biennial World Cup project: “We must give hope to Africans so that they do not don't have to cross the Mediterranean to perhaps be able to have a better life here.
We must give them opportunities and dignity.
If he felt on Thursday that his words had been "misinterpreted", the Swiss did not raise his popularity rating in Africa.
"Africa is a kingmaker"
“I am not surprised that he makes this kind of remark, because, since his election, he has been making low blows against African football, even if he gives the impression of wanting to help it, says Babacar Ndaw Faye , editor-in-chief of the Senegalese news site Emedia, which covers news from across the continent.
He is someone who always uses Africa and its football to make his own policy and set up his objectives, which are purely financial.
Financier, and a little electoralist too.
"Africa is a kingmaker," explains Jean-Baptiste Guégan, specialist in the geopolitics of sport and football.
Infantino knows that he will only remain at the head of Fifa [which did not respond to our requests] with the support of African countries, which represent a quarter of the federations.
And who will vote as one man for the biennial World Cup dear to Infantino, that goes without saying.
Because to oversee these 54 federations as it pleases, what better than to parachute a "pawn" at the head of the CAF (African Football Confederation), in the person of Patrice Motsepe, "not at all known in the world of football African", according to the journalist, one of the few billionaires on the continent and president of the South African club Mamelodi Sundowns.
The Rabat Pact to install Motsepe
While competing against three other candidates, Motsepe found himself alone in the running a few weeks before the election.
By what miracle?
A luxury hotel in Rabat (Morocco), two emissaries from Fifa (including Véron Mosengo, later appointed secretary general of CAF), Moroccan and Egyptian intermediaries, positions promised in exchange for withdrawn candidates, and voila.
The Senegalese Augustin Senghor, favorite of the ballot, leaves the chair free to Motsepe and finds himself propelled vice-president of CAF.
A tactical movement soberly qualified as "African unity" by the international federation, which assumes for its part that it wants to wipe the slate clean of the past mismanagement of CAF with new heads in charge.
CAF is under the supervision of Fifa
At the end of these suspicious movements, however, the continental body finds itself under the supervision of the international federation. “Now CAF is simply a department of Fifa, there is no one left, there is nothing left, deplores Abdouraman Hamadou, president of the Cameroonian club Etoile filante de Garoua and former member of the Federation. Cameroonian. With Issa Hayatou [former president of CAF, suspended from all football-related activity for a year], it was small-scale, artisanal, old-fashioned management. But, there, it is nothingness. »
Nothingness even in the organization of the biggest event on the continent, the African Cup of Nations, which is currently taking place in Cameroon.
Fifa has dispatched agents on the spot who supplant those of the CAF, like the FBI which comes to release the scavengers from an investigation.
“Many of the tasks that should be the responsibility of CAF are in the hands of Fifa and its agents, notes Babacar Ndaw Faye.
When you talk to some of them, they tell you that everything is managed from Zurich, even for the most basic aspects.
Silence in the Federations
Hence, perhaps, the organizational problems, the controversies over the Covid tests, the level of the referees… “It is because of this that the CAN is discredited, because the CAF does not play its role of organizer” , plague Abdouraman Hamadou.
The club president, who believes "that football is in danger", had also sent a letter to the presidents of the national associations members of Fifa last November to denounce the "actions of Gianni Infantino in Cameroon and throughout the Africa”.
"As long as Africans have not taken control of their football and have not assumed the responsibility that this entails, there will always be outside actors to come and use football at their expense, influence them and instrumentalise them", continues Jean-Baptiste Guégan.
Contacted, many national federations did not respond to our requests.
Logic, for Babacar Ndaw Faye:
Some will prefer not to get too wet to avoid possible reprisals.
We have already seen it with Fifa which, overnight, sets up standardization committees at the head of the Federations in Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali or Chad.
Motsepe yelled (a little)
Because, here again, if it considers that there is a crisis of governance within a federation, FIFA, under paragraph 2 of article 8 of the regulations, can decide to install its small pawns at the head of a federation, who will form this famous standardization committee. But the hope is still there. "If there must be a revolt, it must start from certain federations, such as in Cameroon, Senegal, Algeria or Côte d'Ivoire", assures the editor-in-chief. “There is crazy potential, but everyone uses football as a tool of influence, continues Guégan. Football is a source of power, a source of funding for many of the leaders and it has participated in the corruption of governments. »
Despite everything, Patrice Motsepe proved that he could be something more than a puppet by holding firm in his desire to keep the CAN in Cameroon, while Fifa pushed for the competition to be moved or even canceled.
“I hope this is the starting point for African leaders to assert themselves against Fifa, concludes Babacar Ndaw Faye.
Because you can't be in your office in Zurich pretending that you know African football better than Africans.
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