Africa’s reliable disappointments: Football

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is over and as the fever dies in the rest of the World, congratulations are in order for the Germans who emerged the champions. They indeed have proved that like their BMW’s and Mercedes, their machines if well oiled, can deliver wonders.
As the curtains are brought down and focus now goes to domestic leagues, African player’s transfers are taking a center stage in the International transfer market with huge expensive sales. This is a stark contrast of the heartaches and headaches many of the players put their Countries and the entire African continent through in Brazil.

African teams are very reliable disappointments, only Nigeria and Algeria reached the knock out stages. Despite having one of the greatest squads in the tournament, led by previous European champions’ league winner Didier Drogba, Ivory Coast bowed out early but humbly. Nigeria, Cameroon and Ghana just had to wash Africa’s dirty linen in the full glare of cameras beaming across the globe.
African Champions Nigeria suspended a training sessions just a few days to their knockout stage match which they eventually lost against France to ensure that all their bonus were paid. The Nigerian FA had promised them a bonus of ten thousand dollars each for every match won.
Samuel Eto’o led Cameroon team jetted into Brazil a day late than the scheduled date after declining to board their fight until they were paid their allowances. The Cameroonian national federation had to take out a bank loan to save face.

Two Cameroonian players also engaged in some sheepish head-butting incident during their now controversial 4 – 0 loss against Croatia.
One of Africa’s greatest democracy’s Ghana went a step further and in a scene reminiscent of a good Hollywood script, had their Government fly in over 3 million dollars in cash to avert a player’s strike. Two of their star players celebrated their handsome pay by physically and verbally assaulting two of their team’s officials in separate incidences.

Why do Africans have to embarrass themselves at such an important global fete where Billions are watching? Why teams from other confederations not distracted by the same payment issue aren’t, yet FIFA pays well an advance each of the participating countries?
In fact, FIFA paid 1.5 million dollars as an advance to each of the 32 teams to prepare for the tournament this is a huge increase from the half a million dollars paid in 2010. That amount should have comfortably paid the wrangling Africans a good down payment.
There is a very genuine excuse given by all African teams that if they are not paid all their allowances before their final match then they will never be paid and instead the money will be pocketed by their federation officials. This mistrust has throughout the years bedeviled Africans and an example is in Kenya where some players are owed allowances unpaid since the 80’s.

The African teams had heavily in their ranks players who are earning tens of thousands of dollars per week plying their trade in Europe but still their professionalism was extremely wanting. It seems a player like Liberian George Weah was an Angel in disguise in human form. The former World player of the year would single handedly cater for his war torn country’s football team. This including paying officials and players, air tickets, uniforms etc.

African football in general just like many other African institutions is corrupt and without any proper systems with checks and balances. This has left room for federation officials to exploit and misuse players for their own selfish gain. “Be patriotic to your country,” they usually tell the players but when it’s time to pay even some meager allowances, the officials become patriotic only to their own pockets.
Players themselves should find a way of addressing this and many other issues. Absconding duty whilst already in an international stage is akin to a soldier deserting the army when surrounded. Throwing punches at fellow team mates only reinforces to the world that Africa is a violent continent bedeviled by Civil war even on a football pitch.

Robert Ochola
Robert Ochola, born and raised in Nairobi the Capital City of Kenya. I am an upwardly mobile Journalist with a bias towards the truth and real issues that affect the real people and a willingness and professional capacity to effectively investigate and report problems and successes on the African continent and beyond.

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