Robson Sharuko H-Metro Editor
THERE is a statement which runs very deep into the heart of the complex and toxic world of football politics – there are no permanent friends or enemies in this game.
The only permanent thing, in the game, are the interests.
That’s what binds, and separates, its administrators, defines its politics and influences what happens in its corridors of power.
Principles are a luxury, the truth barely matters, they fake love so much they even make Judas Iscariot, who staged the world’s greatest betrayal, look like a kid from a kindergarten.
Maybe, that explains why, after the explosion of the 2015 FIFA Corruption scandal, about nine high-ranking officials of the world football controlling body, were implicated.
They were part of the 18 individuals, and five businessmen, who were part of a web of corruption, whose heartbeat was found in Zurich.
Today, even those who were the closest friends of those who were pushed out of the game pretend as if they didn’t know them, or know their evil deeds.
Take for instance Ahmad Ahmad.
The little man whose ascendancy to the CAF throne began here in Harare, in the golden walls of the Rainbow Hotel, where the pact, to ensure he would replace Issa Hayatou, was sealed.
He was the new darling of football politics, on the continent, and even though it was clear he had terribly misfired, during his time in charge of CAF, he wasn’t short of overwhelming support, when news filtered through, that he wanted to be re-elected.
A statement signed by the heads of Africa’s six regions revealed 46 FA presidents of the continent’s 54 Member Associations were backing Ahmad for re-election.
“Today, we, presidents of the six Councils of African Football Associations, supported by 46 presidents of our 54 Member Associations, call on president Ahmad to run for a second term in order to continue with his achievement,” the statement read.
“If he decides to do so, we will support him.”
A few months down the line, everything changed and Ahmad, after being sanctioned by FIFA for ethics violations, was now a football pariah and, the 46 voices which had backed him, fell silent.
It was as if he never existed at all, abandoned by those who had courted his patronage as if he was a saint, and condemned by many who had dined with him, telling him he was the greatest thing to ever happen to African football.
It’s never about permanent friends, or permanent enemies, it’s always about permanent interests.
Once Ahmad was no longer able to serve their interests, he had to go and that they had backed him, for re-election, just a few months earlier, didn’t matter.
After all, shame is a scarce commodity in the corridors of football administration.
This week, CAF secretary-general, the highly divisive and increasingly toxic Veron Mosengo-Omba, wrote a letter to truant ZIFA secretary-general, Joseph Mamutse, backing Felton Kamambo, and his ousted leadership, as the bona-fide leaders of the association.
The irony of Mosengo-Omba’s intervention is curious given he replied to a letter, which was not addressed to him, but to the FIFA secretary-general, Fatma Samoura.
He was just copied that update, as the CAF secretary-general, the same way the COSAFA secretary-general was also copied.
The letter from the ZIFA leadership was just an update of recent developments in local football.
It didn’t ask for a review of the FIFA suspension, something which only the world football governing body can deal with, something which CAF are powerless to lift.
But, what is surprising is the sudden bromance, which appears to have developed, between Mosengo-Omba and Kamambo.
Just four years ago, in the final countdown of the ZIFA elections, Kamambo launched a savage attack on the integrity of the dual Swiss/Congolese citizen, in a protest letter to Samoura.
“FIFA must come and supervise the elections but not Veron (who was then the FIFA director of member associations for Africa and the Caribbean), who is a close confidant of Philip Chiyangwa,” wrote Kamambo.
It was such a brutal attack on the then high-ranking FIFA official that Samoura was even forced to censure Kamambo.
“We would like to seize this opportunity to inform you that FIFA will deploy a delegation to Harare to observe the electoral proceedings,” Samoura wrote in her response.
“In this context, we strongly repudiate the unfounded, and defamatory allegation, that Mr Veron Mosengo-Omba, FIFA director Africa and Caribbean region, would be in any way compromised or partial with regard to the ZIFA elections.”
It remains the strongest rebuke ever from FIFA to a local football official.
But, football is never about permanent friends, or enemies, but about permanent interests.
Fast forward to today, and Mosengo-Omba appears even desperate, to sing in Kamambo’s corner, even without being asked to provide an opinion on the state of football in this country.
But, this shouldn’t be surprising at all.
After all, one of Mosengo-Omba’s last major acts in Africa, during his time in the FIFA corridors, was endorsing that charade, camouflaged as development, in which US$100 000 of the world football governing body’s money was sunk into those solar-powered floodlights, for what has turned out to be white elephants in Kinshasa.
That was in March 2020.
“Thanks to the solar-powered lighting in Kinshasa, the children no longer have to play football in high temperatures at midday or in the afternoon, but can use the pitch until midnight,” Mosego-Oumba said at the unveiling ceremony.
“This creates a flexibility that will benefit the community and football in the country equally.”
Of course, we now know this exercise didn’t add any value to Congolese football and the hard surface football fields, which were meant to be illuminated, are in a poor state.
Maybe, in a way, that explains why the other VVIP at that function, the then Congolese FA leader, Constant Omari, was soon booted out of football for violation of FIFA ethics.
Omari was not an ordinary FA boss, he was the CAF vice-president and a FIFA Council member.
But, who cares?
After all, it’s never about permanent friends or permanent enemies but it’s about permanent interests.