CAF president Ahmed Ahmed has come out to explain the body’s decision to scrap off the African-based Footballer of the Year and the Referee of the Year from its 2017 edition. Despite releasing a shortlist of 10 footballers and referees, the continent’s football governing body decided to drop the categories which prompted several stake holders to demand for explanations.
Speaking at a press conference in Accra on the eve of the awards, CAF president Ahmed Ahmed finally explained the scraping of the African Footballer of the Year based in Africa saying: “It’s very simple; we want to promote African football. There are no two levels of football in Africa. Best is best, not best for the bad or best for the best. That’s the reason. We don’t have two bests, the players based in Africa are also capable of winning the African Player of the year Award, so there is no need to categorize them”, he added. “We felt that a double standard could not be promoted by awarding distinctions for second choice. When you aim for excellence, you must rise to the highest standards. The goal is to work for the best players to stay on the continent. One can evolve in Africa and be the best player in Africa. We must create the conditions to keep the best on the continent and have one day the best African player who plays in Africa. On the scrapping of the category “Referee of the Year”, Ahmed noted that the “referees already have their rewards and marks of recognition. They are evaluated at each match by the Referees Committee and the best are designated for big games such as the CAF Champions League final. In addition, there is a risk of violation of ethical rules because this distinction can be a factor of corruption in the near future”.
Uganda’s goalkeeper Denis Onyango who scoped the honor last year will officially be the last player to receive the African-based Player of the Year award, while Gambian referee Bakary Gassama will be the last to receive the Referee of the Year Award.