Mixed reactions have greeted the Globacom/Confederation of African Football (CAF) awards held on Thursday in Accra, Ghana, where Yaya Toure of Cote d’Ivoire emerged the African Football Player of the Year.
Some football fans in Ebonyi claimed that players from francophone countries are always favoured in the award, and that the African Living Legend Award given to Austin Jay-Jay Okocha was belated.
Others saw Perptua Nkwocha’s Best Female Player Award as a good omen for Nigeria, whose performance in football in 2011 is nothing to write home about.
Mr Emmanuel Appiah, a Ghanaian living in Abakaliki, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that CAF always favour players from Francophone countries for the best male footballer award.
“Instances of this abound in the past; CAF seems not to welcome the idea of the British Broadcasting Service (BBC) giving similar recognition to players.
“Ghanaian Samuel Osei-Kuffour, Asamoah Gyan and Nigeria’s Austin Okocha all won the BBC African Footballer of the Year awards in the years CAF picked its best players – Samuel Eto from Cameroon and El Hadji Diof from Senegal, all French speaking countries.
“It is clear that Dede Ayew of Ghana was the best player in Africa this year, but CAF gave the award to Yaya Toure of Cote d’Ivoire,” he said.
Mr. Appiah said that the political intrigues inside CAF accounted for the poor state of football on the continent and called for a total reorganisation of the body as was done in FIFA.
“It is time stakeholders in the continent rise to the challenge of dethroning the Issa Hayatou-led leadership of CAF, which has been characterised by favouritism, corruption and ineptitude,” he said.
Godwin Odionye, Chairman of Ebonyi Referees Council, said the emergence of Perteptua Nkwocha and Taye Taiwo as the best female player, and member of the All Stars team respectively, was a good omen for the nation’s soccer.
“In a year that witnessed a calamitous decline of our football, the awards show that with more commitment by players, and administrative competence, the country will return to the glory days of its football.
“These awards and the recent victory of the Super Sand Eagles at the COPA Lagos Beach Competition should serve as a yardstick for Nigerian players and the soccer authorities to redouble their efforts at revolutionalising our football,” he said.
Mrs Paulina Okorie, a lecturer at the Ebonyi College of Education, Ikwo, said the belated African Living Legend Award to Austin Okocha was an escapist move by CAF to redress the injustice meted to the Nigerian icon.
“CAF robbed Okocha of the award in 1998 and 2004 when it was clear to all that he was the best player in Africa.
“Giving him the African Living Legend Award now, shows that CAF knew and still knows, that Okocha remains one of the best midfielders that have been produced by the continent,” she said.