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African Nations Cup: A Conscious Need to Redefine Nigeria & Africa
By: Ehimwenma E. Aimiuwu
February 2, 2010

 

 

I have said numerous times on this forum that soccer is the biggest religion on this planet.  It has more followers than Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism put together.  I have also stated that the 3 largest events on this planet with the most viewers and followers are the FIFA World Cup, Summer Olympic Games, and the African Nations Cup.   These events do not only have Nigeria and Africa written all over it, but it is usually the only window by which the outside world judges our progress, creativity, political situations, and cultural advancement at the same moment in time.  

 

During these games, many statements are made about the countries as their participants are competing live.  It is a moment where each nation is measured and judge by the level of its participating citizens.  It shows how well prepared a nation is and how seriously each nation should be taken on global affairs.  The bigger and more civilized nations are very aware of this, so they put on their very best in these competitions even though it may not be their main sporting event.  They would either exit the competition gracefully with a noble fight for global admiration, or not even come to the event at all if they are not up to the task.  During the same events, it is usually the dark skinned nations that are struggling or not well prepared.  This allows the commentators to inform the world that the reasons for our poor performance range from bad government, corruption, civil war, poor infrastructure, grave diseases, or abject poverty.  There is nothing wrong with being dark skinned, but unfortunately, places where there is low performance, lack of consciousness, and are inadequately prepared tend to have dark skinned peoples.  So what does Nigeria and the rest of the African peoples have to do consciously in soccer to improve their global respect? 

First, they must have African coaches in every event:  It is a monumental insult and disregard to our ancestors and children that there are usually more White coaches at the AFRICAN Nations Cup than African coaches.  If this had happened in Europe, we will say it is racism, but it is happening on African soil and in an African staged event with billions of people watching us.  Shaibu Amodu of Nigeria, so far, appears to be the only Black African coach going to the first World Cup to be held on African soil and that is if his contract is honored till August 2010.  Many are complaining that African coaches are no good or not competent enough.  Many want Amodu to be sacked immediately for a foreign coach.  It is true that Amodu performed far below expectation at the just concluded African Nations Cup, but of the six African countries going to the World Cup, only Ghana surpassed Amodu with their White coaches.  Amodu’s failure, in not taking us to the World Cup or not performing well if he does, is not an embarrassment to Amodu, but rather, to the Black race and to Africa.  Every African nation that has soccer as its main sport MUST have at least 5 coaches that measure up to the standard of the major European and South America leagues.  It is called training and investing to promote national image.  When last did England get an African coach to take it to the World Cup?  Amodu or not, an African coach must be in every World Cup.  It is our collective duty to make sure that they are well equipped.  Have some shame!!! 

Second, they must have African referees in every event: I expect at least 10%-15% of referees in the FIFA World Cup to come out of Africa.  The Confederation of African Football (CAF) must insist that this is the case.  This is because it is how billions of the world’s citizen judge Africa on a yearly basis.  They already say that most of the good African players play in the European leagues, they already know that it is White coaches that take African nations to the World Cup, and they also see that there is almost never an African referee in charge of any games.  So if Africans are not allowed in the European leagues, then African football does not exist.  This means Africa can be disrespected and ignored publicly in a justified manner.  Does Africa have any form of leadership and foresight to tackle issues that may bring dishonor to our children before they arise in the eyes of the world?  In the last African Nations Cup, I believe I saw a Saudi referee and an Iranian assistant, but not one referee out of 16 was a Nigerian.  Yet, we expect Nigeria to win the Nations Cup and be a force to be reckoned with.   Does Black Africans referee in European and Arab championship games?  If Nigeria, the so called giant of Africa, does not have a respectable and qualified referee for the African Nations Cup (we had one assistant – linesman), then that means that Nigerian football is actually a joke even by African standard.  You do not expect students to do well as a group in external competitions if they are known to have very bad teachers.  If Nigerian referees are not good enough for African games, then the Nigeria local league must be useless.  CAF must tackle the need for highly qualify referees from Africa at global soccer events. 

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Third, the CAF must sanction Arab praise in African soccer:  One of the reasons I do not support Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria in the African Nations Cup (ANC) is that whenever they win the ANC, they always say ARAB FOOTBALL in the global press and not AFRICAN.  This is why I never want North Africans to win and represent Africa in the Confederations Cup.  If they want to play for the Arab qualifications for the World Cup or their Arab Cup, they should please do so, but to compete as Africans and then go call it ARAB FOOTBALL must be prohibited by CAF with severe fines.  If Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, and Ivory Coast were a little more conscious and took care of business, maybe the North Africans will be more respectful and appreciative to be part of African Football.  Instead, they allowed Egypt to win the cup three consecutive times and thereby justifying ARAB FOOTBALL.  No ones really want to associate with what is inferior even on their own soil.  If Africans individually and collectively do not do things to bring honor to themselves rather than to pursue money, approval, or promotions from others, they will forever curse and spit on our children. 

Fourth, CAF should ban prayers on the field of play:  It is becoming an unbearable eyesore in many soccer events to see Africans praying savagely before, during, and after games.  Africans are beginning to act as if they are the only ones who have the monopoly of God.  It is beginning to be a thing of laughter among the civilized nations that Africans lack self-confidence, knowledge of the game, and the ability to win.  Other nations pray in privacy and come out to fight with all the strength and zeal they have publicly.  Africans on the other hand, especially Nigerians, fall to their knees or do their Islamic bows during the game instead of staying focused and playing to instructions.  It is not the country that prays the most that wins, but rather, the most prepared and believes in his or her God given abilities.  Moreover, these public religious acts bring Africa nothing but dishonor.  It only helps to emphasize and remind the world that Africa is still a conquered continent and still relies on its colonial affiliations to succeed.  After every African game in front of billions of people, the viewers never come to ask about African history, African dances, African music, African proverbs and folklore, African language, or African food, but rather, they want to know only about African views on Christianity and Islam.  This is because that is all we show them that we are.  We are a bunch of sub-humans that like to worship God the Arab and European way.   We have absolutely nothing to offer the world that brings brilliance and respect.  It was Roger Milla’s Mokossa dance that brought more honor to Cameroon than the goals he scored because he gave the world something unique to celebrate on the world stage.  In many World Cup documentaries since 1990, you must see Roger Milla dancing after he scores a goal.  Mokossa dance is now everywhere on the internet and in may dance classes around the world.  There is nothing wrong in showing a t-shirt with an African symbol, African art, or African personality than just Jesus after a goal.  There is also nothing wrong in giving an African cultural handshake or an African cultural dance as a group instead of an Islamic bow in unison after winning a game.   You are the one that gives the world a reason to seek you, talk about you, invest in you, and believe in you by being unique, original, and authentic. 

Lastly, CAF must use soccer to promote Africa.  There is no other time when the world focuses on Africa at a given moment than during soccer, so the CAF must see its position as the vehicle to market Africa’s image to the world as a progressive, successful, and a supreme continent to be reckoned with.  It can use its position and power to challenge African nations to do better politically and economically.  It must challenge African nations to breed world class professional leagues, world class coaches, and world class referees even if they have to be trained and schooled abroad.  All Africa nations must be forced or encouraged to meet a certain expectation in their leagues, local players’ exposures, coaches, and referees or face strict sanctions.  African local players, coaches, and referees must be well represented in number at global events.  In the last World Cup, captains were made to read a statement from FIFA in their national tongue before each game.  It is always shameful to see African nations speaking only English, French, and Arabic on the world stage.  It only justifies our irrelevance as a conquered people.  CAF should pass a law that each multi-lingual African nation must alternate their captains for each match.  This will not only motivate African children to speak their languages, but will also encourage fans of a player to embrace, learn, or want to speak that African language during his or her career.  Remember, if a child can speak up to 7 languages, why not the language of an African soccer star?    It will also be nice to encourage African players to speak their African tongue during interviews; it helps to create jobs for Africans in foreign lands as interpreters.  CAF, FIFA, UEFA, UNICEF, and other organization have to hire and provide translators wherever African stars are talking.  CAF can also have a webpage for every African world class player where he or she gives children or their fans advice in an African language with subtitles wearing their African attire.  Below the video, will be African produced books and folktales, clothes and shoes, jewelry and beads, mats and arts all endorsed by the player.   This is one way to keep the world’s eyes, interest, and money in Africa by making sure Africa is always at its best during these global soccer events.