February 26th 2018

Sports / In-Depth

To grow African soccer, CAF should combat hooliganism as priority

Comparing Africa’s governing body, CAF, to UEFA, Africa still has a long way to go and learn at the same time in order to reach the high levels of football Europe has attained.

By Thomas Matalangatmatalanga@kenyafreepress.comThursday, 16 Jun 2016 07:56 EAT

Recently the European football governing body, UEFA, gave Russia a suspended disqualification from the Euro 2016 championships in France for crowd trouble and hooliganism by both the Russian and English football fans during Russia’s match against England at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille. Amid all the hype and glamour of tantalizing football that was expected in this year’s championships, France failed to contain the rioting fans as the violence escaleted. With UEFA already distancing itself from acts of hooliganism witnessed outside the venues where Russia will play the remainder of their fixtures, the spotlight is on the French government to guarantee security to the fans.

The Russian sports minister earlier today released a statement saying that Russia wouldn’t appeal the disqualification and a fine of 150.000 euros given to it by UEFA. This comes after UEFA in its earlier statement said that the ban would take effect if crowd trouble and disturbances will be witnessed in any of Russia’s remaining fixtures. England on its part urged its fans to maintain peace and harmony while cheering. This statement was passed across by both players and their manager Roy Hodgson. In one of the incidents, Jamie Vardy’s wife was caught up in the scuffles and is lucky to have survived unscathed.

The decision by UEFA is a commendable one although it should tighten its grip on the hooligans involved. Comparing Africa’s governing body, CAF, to UEFA, Africa still has a long way to go and learn  in order to reach the high standards of European football. Over the years European football has always appealed to every young footballer starting out from anywhere across the globe. What a majority of us haven’t asked ourselves is how Europe stemmed and cemented its position as a giant in footballing aspects. CAF should therefore also embark on such measures to curb and arrest the dilapidation of African football.

Hooliganism is one of the major impediments obstructing growth of football in Africa. This has impacted so negatively on the continent and as a result has seen a majority of our continent’s elite  players shift their allegiance. A majority of them have made the decision to play for their former colonial masters. Patrice Evra was born in Senegal and even had a call up to the Senegalese national team once but due to hooliganism and many other factors he now hold s a French passport and plays for Les Blues. He is just an example among the many other players who have taken the same path.

Africa is a blessed continent. We are endowed with talented footballers. We  need to go back to the drawing board and figure out what it is we are doing wrong. A tougher approach to the management of football in the continent should be applied. Football stakeholders across the continent should therefore create an enabling environment for football and the players to flourish in equal measure. Hooliganism should be our prime enemy. Overcoming it would open the door for Africa to address other problems as well, including of course poor management of clubs, so that we can become a force to reckon with in football globally.

Matalanga is a student of journalism at the East Africa School of Media Studies and an intern writer at the Kenya Free Press.

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