CAF Presidency : Ahmad storms Nigeria, visits Saraki, Dalung

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Preaches transparency, accountability

By Monica Iheakam

Madagascar Football Federation President and candidate for the Confederation of African Football hot seat, Ahmad Ahmad yesterday , declared that his group is committed to installing new thinking and ideals at the CAF headquarters, if he wins this month’s poll in Addis Ababa.

Ahmad, who is also deputy Senate President of Madagascar, told Nigeria’s Senate President Bukola Saraki, Sports Minister Solomon Dalung and NFF officials in Abuja that African football cannot afford to continue with ancient principles while the rest of the world’s game has been taken over by youthful, dynamic and innovative managers.

“The rest of the world has changed in almost every sphere. Why must African football remain static? We want to bring a breath of fresh air. We are committed to a CAF that is transparent, that is accountable and that is more inclusive of the actors of the game.

“We will open the debate on whether there should be a larger Africa Cup of Nations (with more teams), and we have to think hard about infrastructure, real development, maintenance of facilities and filling the stadia during major competitions.”

The 57 –year old insisted he had not always nursed an ambition to be CAF President, but that he was the candidate of a group that came together after the FIFA Congress in Mexico last year and opted for change.

“There are many reasons why we need change. “I have very high regard for Nigeria, for what Nigeria has achieved in football and for being an economic power in the African region. I am really grateful to Mr. Pinnick who has been the strongest voice of my campaign, and I thank the Government of Nigeria for supporting him.”

Senate President Saraki, who received Ahmad and the NFF delegation led by 2nd Vice President/LMC chairman Shehu Dikko in his house, noted: “We are a nation of very passionate football fans.

Football, like other areas of life, needs visionary leaders who can institute reforms for good governance.”

Sports Minister Dalung affirmed that football is a major unifying factor in Nigeria even as he charged African football leaders to do more in the area of developing the game.

“Our country has made, and is still making major contributions to peace and security in several African nations, and has also been making positive contributions in the game of football. Over 70 per cent of Africa’s youth are unemployed, and we believe that with good governance and excellent management of resources, football can provide employment for hundreds of millions of Africa’s young population and by so doing, reduce social vices and restiveness.

“The barriers against Africa competing favourably in the international sphere must be broken. There are a lot of impediments, including poor infrastructure. FIFA should allot more money to Africa for infrastructural development, and there must be equity.

“We cannot afford to remain a mere plucking ground for the European Leagues. The leaders of African football must address these salient issues”.

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