Ghanaian FA Names New Head After Corruption Scandal

Newly elected President of Ghana Football Association (GFA) Kurt Okraku gives a speech after the GFA president’s election at the Physicians and Surgeons Centre in Accra on October 25, 2019. 
CRISTINA ALDEHUELA / AFP

 

The Ghanaian Football Association on Friday named a new president more than a year after a corruption scandal forced a major shake-up of the game in the West African nation.

Kurt Okraku — chief executive of local Premier League club Dreams FC — filled the position left vacant since Kwesi Nyantakyi stepped down after an undercover documentary showed him soliciting kickbacks worth millions of dollars.

Okraku got the nod from the 120 delegates after beating former FA vice president George Afriyie at a second round of voting.

The expose by journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas rocked football in Ghana and led to the creation of a “normalisation committee” to lead reforms in the FA before a new president could be chosen.

Ghana’s government said the  revelations in 2018 had exposed “gross malfunctioning… characterised by widespread fraud, corruption and bribery” at the country’s FA.

Nyantakyi was banned from football for life by the sport’s world governing body FIFA last October after being found guilty of bribery and corruption.

The sting also saw a string of referees banned for life in Ghana and football officials in a number of other African countries sanctioned.

AFP

Germany’s World Cup Winner Schweinsteiger Announces Retirement

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 28, 2018 former Bayern Munich’s midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger waves during his farewell match between his former teams FC Bayern Munich and Chicago Fire in the stadium in Munich, southern Germany, on August 28, 2018.  Christof STACHE / AFP

 

Bastian Schweinsteiger is welcome to join the Germany coaching staff, national team coach Joachim Loew said Tuesday just hours before the veteran midfielder announced his retirement on Tuesday.

“The time has now come and I will be finishing my active career at the end of the season,” Schweinsteiger wrote on Twitter.

“Saying goodbye as an active player makes me feel a little nostalgic, but I am also looking forward to the exciting challenges that await me.”

The 35-year-old former Bayern Munich and Manchester United midfielder has effectively hung up his boots as his current team Chicago Fire team failed to make the MLS play-offs.

Shortly before Tuesday’s announcement on social media by Schweinsteiger, Loew said the midfielder could join his staff.

“We will always have a place for him,” said Loew in Dortmund where Germany are preparing to host Argentina in a friendly on Wednesday.

“I don’t know what his plans are,” he said, adding “any player who has ever played in the national team, and has the goal of being a coach, is always welcome here to get a taste of what it’s like.”

Schweinsteiger’s former national team-mate Miroslav Klose was briefly part of Loew’s coaching staff, as a forwards coach, until last year’s World Cup.

Schweinsteiger retired from the national team in 2016 after making 121 appearances.

Loew heaped praise on Schweinsteiger, who helped inspire a 1-0 extra-time victory over Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final despite a cut under his right eye.

“Everyone has a picture of him in their heads: blood-stained in the Maracana (in the 2014 World Cup final), he got up again and again and gave everything.

“He is one of the greatest players in German history,” enthused Loew.

“You could always feel his will to win. He was a great player and a great personality.”

AFP

FIFA To Ensure Iran Allows Women Fans Into Match

FIFA President Gianni Infantino/ AFP

 

FIFA will send a delegation to Tehran to make sure women fans are admitted to the World Cup qualifying match between Iran and Cambodia on October 10.

Former French World Cup winner Youri Djorkaeff told AFP on Thursday that he would be part of the delegation.

“Iran is a hot topic and I am organising myself to be there on October 10,” Djorkaeff said.

It was his first interview since his appointment a week ago as Chief Executive Officer of the FIFA Foundation, whose objectives include making football more accessible to women in the Middle East.

The presence of a delegation is important “to show that FIFA intervened there with conviction,” said the former midfielder.

On Sunday, Gianni Infantino, president of the governing body of world football, said he had been “assured” by Iran that women could attend the match.

There had been calls to ban Iran from international competitions following the death of a female fan, Sahar Khodayari, who set herself on fire following her arrest for trying to enter a stadium.

Iranian women have been banned from stadiums since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, with religious leaders arguing that they must be protected from the “male atmosphere” and the “sight of half-naked men”.

While a small number of women have been allowed to attend international matches in recent years, others have been prosecuted for going to games in other competitions.

AFP

One Dead, Five Injured As Morocco Football Fans Clash

Morocco Rejoins African Union

 

One person was killed and five injured in clashes between rival football fans after a cup tie near the Moroccan city of Casablanca, local authorities said Wednesday.

“A group of supporters of Wydad Casablanca (club) stopped a vehicle carrying fans of AS FAR Rabat, throwing stones and the situation degenerated,” they said in a statement.

They said one person died of his injuries after “falling from on top of the vehicle” and five others were hospitalised.

Police made six arrests over the violence which followed a 3-1 defeat for the home club.

Football violence is common in Morocco costing the lives of supporters in March 2016, after which authorities temporarily cracked down on radical supporters clubs.

AFP

Michael Owen Says Father Was Driving Force And Reveals Son’s Blindness

 

Former European player of the year Michael Owen says he owes his success to his father, who insisted he was given steak for dinner as a child while his four siblings made do with baked beans on toast.

The 39-year-old former Liverpool and England striker told The Times he even climbed into the boxing ring because his father Terry said he needed to “toughen up”.

Despite this Owen, who won both his bouts, tweeted on Wednesday on his father’s 70th birthday he was “the kindest man I ever met”.

“I was the only one allowed a steak on a Tuesday,” said Owen.

“My dad said, ‘You’re all having beans on toast, Michael’s got to have steak because we need to build him up for when he’s going to be a footballer.’

“I did feel special, definitely. He was planting the seed constantly.”

Owen says Terry, who was also a professional footballer with lower league clubs including Chester with whom he reached the League Cup semi-finals — struggled to adjust to life after football so devoted as much of his time as possible to his son.

“He got jobs that would be perfect so he could come and watch me, even in a PE session, a poxy cross-country training run, or playing rugby,” said Owen.

“My dad would be on the other side of the bush watching me. Unbelievable.

“If he wasn’t there I’d still push through the pain barrier, because of my inner will to win, but, Jeez, my dad being there, I can’t have him see me coming second.

“I’d prefer to die than my dad to think I’m second best.”

‘Clinically he’s blind’

Owen, who won the Ballon D’Or after Liverpool won the UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup in the 2000/01 campaign, admitted he hated boxing but he did not want to deny his father.

“When my dad said, ‘You’re going boxing, because you need to toughen up’ do you think I liked getting punched in the face?,” said Owen, who is now a successful thoroughbred racehorse breeder.

“I went to boxing for three years. I bloody hated it. I fought in front of 2,000 people in Anglesey and 2,000 people in Deeside.

“It was the most scary thing in the world, knowing I was going to fight. But I knew I was making dad proud.”

Owen, who burst onto the international scene when he scored a solo goal in the 1998 World Cup finals against Argentina, said his son James will never grace a football pitch.

“My son’s got an eye condition,” says Owen, whose eldest daughter Gemma represents Britain at equestrianism.

“I’ve never said this. I don’t want a big headline.

“Clinically, he’s blind. He’s got Stargardt disease, a degeneration of his retina.

“I used to go and watch him and bollock him about his positioning.

“He can’t see the ball until it’s five yards away.

“As much as every father wants their son to play, it is almost a relief to me.”

Jailed South American Official Gets Life FIFA Ban

FIFA Bans Ex-Zambian Football Chief Bwalya Over Bribery Allegations
File

Two weeks after former South American football official Juan Angel Napout was sentenced to nine years in prison by a US court for corruption, he was banned for life on Thursday by FIFA. 

Napout, at one time the head of both the Paraguayan and the South American(Conmebol) football federations and a FIFA vice president, was found guilty by a New York court in April.

On August 29, he received the longest sentence of any of the 42 accused in the ‘Fifagate’ case.

The FIFA Ethics Commission followed suit on Thursday, saying they had found Napout guilty of “corruption”.

They suspended him for life from “any football-related activity” and fined him 1 million Swiss francs (913,000 euros).

The US investigation exposed tens of millions of dollars in bribes paid by sports promotion companies to senior figures in South American soccer federations, for broadcast rights and promotional events at tournaments organised by Conmebol, including the Copa America and the Copa Libertadores.

The US court also fined Napout $1 million and ordered the 61-year-old to return the $3.3 million in bribes received.

The former boss of the Brazilian Confederation, Jose Maria Marin was sentenced to four years in prison.

AFP

Why I Think Rashidi Yekini Could Have Been Murdered – Segun Odegbami

 

Retired Nigerian Footballer, Olusegun Odegbami, says he believes his colleague, Rashidi Yekini, may have been murdered in 2012.

Prior to his death, Yekini was reported to have been ill for an extended period of time after allegedly suffering from bipolar disorder, depression and some other undisclosed psychiatric condition.

But Odegbami in an interview with The Chat disagreed with the claims, saying “nobody could explain the circumstances of his death”.

“His people actually went and abducted him from his car and took him to a native doctor of some sort to cure him of his ‘insanity’, he explained.

“Why insanity?…because he was funding so many philanthropic projects, giving people his money which he had kept in the bank for so long.

“All through his professional career, he didn’t spend a dime of the money he was getting from Europe, so he had a lot of money in UBA at the time, because one of the managers was my friend.

“They had even advised him to invest but with his own native intelligence, he did not do much investment.

“He built his house, did some things but he had a lot of money so he felt like distributing and they said he was mad so they took him to the native doctor and started giving him all kinds of concoctions and the man passed on. So, that’s why I said he could have been murdered”.

Speaking of his life after football, the retired player said himself, as well as many of his colleagues who are still alive, are now suffering the consequences of over-exerting their joints.

According to him, most of them are not doing so well and have been faced with various challenges especially health-wise and with no support at all from the government.

“You’ll see me walk with a limp these days… that’s what happens to the rest of us,” the 67-year-old former footballer said.

“Probably we would have demanded (not for any payment of some sort) but to have created a system or an institution that will take care of us in old age which is something we have found out now”, he added.

Cameroonian Star Eto’o Announces Retirement From Football

Cameroon’s four-time African Player of the Year Samuel Eto’o has announced his retirement on Saturday at the age of 38.

 

Cameroon’s four-time African Player of the Year Samuel Eto’o announced his retirement on Saturday at the age of 38, declaring “I need a rest”.

“The end, towards a new challenge,” the former Barcelona, Inter Milan and Chelsea striker posted on Instagram.

“Thank you all, big love, adrenalin.”

READ ALSO: Banned Athletics Star Semenya Joins South African Football Club

“In a few months you’ll see me doing something new,” Eto’o, who has campaigned relentlessly against racism during his playing days, later said on the margins of an economic forum in DR Congo.

“I need a rest, I’ve been running for 19-years,” he added light-heartedly in Kinshasa.

He stands alongside Liberia’s current president George Weah and Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba as a great of African sport, and cuts a mythical figure in his homeland where he is close to national president Paul Biya.

He is slated for a major role in the Confederation of African Football where he has vowed to fight corruption to ensure funds go into infrastructure.

CAF president Ahmed Ahmed sais Eto’o would take up a key role in the African game.

“Samual Eto’o will take charge of relations between the federations and CAF,” the Madagascan said last month.

The most memorable period of his club career includes five hugely successful seasons with Barcelona from 2004 to 2009.

Despite an unfortunate knack for ruffling feathers, a return of 108 league goals from just 145 matches in five stunning seasons with Barcelona pays testament to his talent.

At his peak he enjoyed electric pace, impeccable touch and instinctive shooting to make him one of the most feared centre-forwards in the world.

He won a pair of Champions League titles and three La Liga crowns before departing under a cloud for Inter Milan after rowing with Ronaldinho leading to Pep Guardiola showing him the dressing room door.

He then spearheaded Jose Mourinho’s charge to a never to be forgotten treble with Inter of Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia titles in his first season in Italy.

He led Cameroon to an impressive four World Cups in 1998, 2002, 2010 and 2014 and enjoyed huge success at the Africa Cup of Nations as the Indomitable Lions won in 2000 and 2002.

He was part of a golden generation that featured Rigobert Song, the late Marc-Vivien Foe and Geremi as Cameroon also won the gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, with the emerging Eto’o both scoring and converting a penalty in the shoot-out win over Spain in front of a blockbuster 114,000 crowd.

His pace left him as his career slowed down with low stints at Russia’s Anzhi Makhachkala, Chelsea and Everton in the Premier League.

Last year, after a short spell with Turkish side Konyaspor, he joined Qatar league side, Qatar Sports Club, his last club.

AFP

Banned Athletics Star Semenya Joins South African Football Club

South African 800m Olympic champion Caster Semenya posing at the Standard Bank Top Women Conference in Johannesburg, on August 14, 2019.  Michele Spatari / AFP

 

Star South African athlete Caster Semenya, who cannot defend her world 800-metre title this month because she refuses to take testosterone-reducing drugs, is set to become a footballer.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist is training with the Johannesburg-based JVW club, but cannot play until next year because the registration deadline for this season has closed.

“I am looking forward to this new journey — I appreciate the love and support I already get from the team,” Semenya said on the club website.

National women’s team captain Janine van Wyk, after whom the club is named, told AFP she was “thrilled Caster had chosen to join her team”.

Semenya is following in the footsteps of Jamaican superstar sprinter Usain Bolt, who trained with Australian club Central Coast Mariners after retiring but did not secure a contract.

International athletics body the IAAF ruled this year that females like Semenya who have differences of sexual development have a competitive advantage.

It barred such athletes from competing in races between 400m and the mile unless they took testosterone-reducing medication.

Semenya refused and won a legal battle, enabling her to compete in 800m races, before a Swiss court overruled the decision, forcing her to miss the upcoming world championships in Qatar.

AFP

Eighth Body Found After Morocco Football Match Flood

 

Morocco authorities said Monday they had found the body of a person missing after a flood hit a football pitch, bringing to eight the number of people killed in last week’s tragedy.

The flood took place when a nearby river burst its banks in the southern region of Taroudant on Wednesday.

A 17-year-old boy and six elderly men were killed and have since been buried, while rescuers continued the search for an eight victim who was swept away by the flood, authorities said.

The last body was found some 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the village of Tizret near where an amateur football tournament had been taking place.

READ ALSO: Russia, Iran Blame US For Regional Tensions

Photographs and videos shared on social media showed muddy waters carrying away people who had clambered on top of a building flattened by the flood.

Authorities have opened an investigation and the government has promised to take several measures to avoid such tragedies in the future.

Morocco’s national weather service had warned of the risk of stormy rains on Wednesday afternoon in several provinces.

The heavy downpour followed a dry spell, making the floods more violent, local media reported.

Floods are common in Morocco. In late July, 15 people died in a landslide caused by flash floods on a road south of Marrakesh.

In 2014, floods killed around 50 people and caused considerable damage in the south of the country.

Between 2000 and 2013, a series of 13 major floods killed a total of 263 people in Morocco and caused considerable damage to infrastructure worth $427 million, according to the World Bank.

A study published in 2015 pointed to multiple failures in infrastructure maintenance, prevention, warning and emergency management.

China World Cup Boost As Nine Foreigners Switch Nationality

 

China could soon be able to field a national team made up almost entirely of players born elsewhere after authorities said nine foreign footballers were switching allegiance.

On Wednesday Brazil-born striker Elkeson became the first player without Chinese heritage to be named in the national squad, as China attempts to reach the World Cup for a second time.

The 30-year-old is poised to make his debut next month in a 2022 World Cup qualifier in the Maldives, where London-born Nico Yennaris — who is half-Chinese — will likely win a third cap.

“We want to go to Qatar (2022 World Cup),” Chen Xuyuan, new president of the Chinese Football Association (CFA), was quoted as saying by state media.

“Naturalised players can be helpful in order to achieve the national team’s short-term goals.

“Up to now, clubs have registered nine naturalised players with or without Chinese heritage at the CFA in total, some of them are still going through the naturalisation process.”

Chen, named to the top post in Chinese football on Thursday, said that more naturalised players will likely represent China as qualification for 2022 progresses.

“But it will never be a long-term policy of the CFA and the numbers will be very limited,” Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.

Several Brazilian attacking players from the Chinese Super League are reportedly among those being naturalised, as is English-born defender Tyias Browning.

The move to give passports to players born elsewhere — particularly when they have no Chinese ancestry — has divided fans.

Some say the CFA should do everything it can to help Marcello Lippi’s side reach only China’s second World Cup.

Others say that a country of 1.4 billion people should easily be able to find 11 players good enough.

China have reached football’s biggest stage only once, in 2002, but left without a point or scoring a goal.

President Xi Jinping wants China to become a major force in world football by 2050, but Lippi’s side languish 71st in the current FIFA rankings.

Chen also reiterated China’s wishes to stage a World Cup, also part of Xi’s ambitious plans for football in the country.

“Hosting the World Cup is a dream of all Chinese fans, including me,” said Chen, declining to say when the country will make its move.

“The CFA will analyse and find out when is the best timing to bid,” he added.

FIFA Appoints Emergency Committee To Run Egyptian Football

FIFA Bans Ex-Zambian Football Chief Bwalya Over Bribery Allegations
File

 

With Egyptian football in the chaos following the sudden departure of the national federation’s leadership, FIFA on Tuesday appointed a temporary committee to take over.

Hani Abou Rida, the president of the Egyptian Football Association (EFA), resigned last month immediately after the hosts’ shock elimination from the African Cup of Nations taking the rest of the board with him and “sacking” his technical staff.

The governing body of world football said it had appointed a “normalisation committee” to “run the daily affairs” of the EFA and “to organise and conduct elections of a new EFA board.”

It had until the end of July 2020 to complete its work.

The five members still had to pass a FIFA background check, said a statement.

Egyptian football was beset by problems during Rida’s three-year reign.

The decision to use Grozny in Chechnya as a base for the Pharaohs disastrous 2018 World Cup campaign, drew criticism.

Star striker Mohamed Salah accused the federation of misusing his image inside the country.

On the eve of the Africa Cup of Nations, the reinstatement of a player who had been banned following sexual harassment charges provoked further criticism.

AFP