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It’s not surprising that the FIFA verdict didn’t change

LAST week we were treated to a flurry of arguments and counter-arguments about the FIFA letters.

But the truth is that whether these letters came two years later, the outcome was never going to change. The outcome would be the same any day, anywhere because FIFA could not go against its own constitution and own rules.

The problem is that people who took FAZ to court knew very well that as long as they wanted to impose their celebrity status above the rules of the game, they were playing a losing game. Rules are rules and the rule that barred Kalusha Bwalya from contesting the elections is not a FAZ law, it’s a global football statute. These are the same rules that incumbent CAF president Ahmad Ahmad and his vice are grappling with at the moment even if they have appealed. Whoever is aspiring to a football leadership position must pass the integrity check at a local federation like FAZ, CAF and FIFA itself, failure to which such rules knock a person out.

So, when football councillors agreed to refine their constitutions, aligning them to the FIFA statutes, they agreed to these processes. And that’s why FAZ when reforming their constitution, they had FIFA informed and approving every step to the end.

Therefore, expecting FIFA to rule against its own processes, the rules they signed to be correct in the first place, is asking for too much from a body that banned some of the most powerful individuals in its ranks like former president Sepp Blatter, former UEFA president Michel Platini, the wealthy Bin Hamman, disgraced former CONCACAF president Jack Warner and others.

All these powerful men were banned by the adjudicatory chamber of the independent FIFA ethics committee and some of them, Kalusha in particular, appealed and had his ban reduced to the period saved but his conviction was never overturned. That conviction led to him failing an integrity check which ruled him out of the race to run for the FAZ presidency again that could have taken place last August. But the election dragged on because his supporters went to court believing that the Zambian courts which they control would deliver justice, while great Kalu himself did the right thing by going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) where his disqualification was unfortunately upheld.

The moment Kalusha failed at CAS, his supporters including government ministers, could have looked for a candidate to support because anyone who read the CAS ruling closely, could have known that it was over for our football legend. Unfortunately, all the time was spent on fighting Andrew Kamanga as an individual, disregarding all the institutional tenets. People focused on discrediting Kamanga instead of real issues. They went to court knowing too well that FIFA has a strict policy of not recognising the judgements of ordinary courts, and there is good reason for that.

FIFA saw the danger, and decided that since Kamanga was not the one dragging the process, he had to remain in office to run things again. His adversaries called him illegitimate but they forgot that their actions legitimised his continued stay in office.

And the other problem is that people were so convinced that it would only take political power to bundle Kamanga out of office, so they can’t live up to the current reality. That was going to be unconstitutional, and because Kamanga followed the FIFA statutes, things got murky because the law was on his side.

Kamanga was hated so much that even the US$38,000 the FAZ secretariat borrowed from him to finance FA projects with approval from the entire executive, people changed and turned it into a crime. They tried to lamp an abuse of office charge on him but it failed both at FIFA and in the hands of our local police when the approval of the debt was exposed.

Let councillors decide Kamanga’s fate

But here is the thing, if councillors feel that Kamanga has failed them, let them be the judge at the AGM. If councillors who were getting K7,000 for playing in the Super League and Kamanga gave them K200,000 for the same reason under the same sponsorship feel that it is not enough, let them vote him out.

No one can deny that Kalusha won the AfCON under his reign in 2012 after being at Football House for almost 12 years – first as vice-president, technical director and Chipolopolo coach and later president. But in 2016, councillors decided not to elect him.

It would nevertheless be stupid to deny Great Kalu his success story at FAZ. It would be like denying that the PF didn’t upgrade the Mongu-Kalabo road to bituminous standard, for the first time since independence. Bringing Supersport to our league was equally a milestone credited to Kalu.

King Kalu enjoyed successes and we must refer to them, but he had his shortcomings too just like all of us. And these short comings should not be deliberately ignored, otherwise we risk making him a god, which is very dangerous. So, the same way we celebrate Kalu’s successes, we should also celebrate Kamanga’s successes in the four years he has been at FAZ.

Zambia lifted the U-20 AfCON for the first time and reached the quarter finals for the first time of the U-20 World Cup under Kamanga’s watch in 2017. It will also be unfair to fail to recognise that the Zambia women’s team qualified to the Olympics for the first time and the same Kamanga’s FAZ paid them US$5,000 each for the feat.

The truth is that this FAZ has dispensed more money to clubs and national teams, players plus equipment support to both clubs, as well as spreading football to all the provinces in an organised league structure both at amateur and national division one league. And only these councillors must be left to independently decide his fate.

Facts are facts, you can’t deny them simply because you hate someone; the world doesn’t work like that.

You can’t keep singling out AfCON failure every time, it’s like saying the PF has completely failed because the exchange rate is K21 to US$1 when they have built roads. And this is a factual success on their part, no matter how much someone may hate them.

Kamanga is battling to qualify to the AfCON and perhaps that is why his administration is staking US$10,000 to each player if they beat Algeria and Zimbabwe next month to qualify. Both these guys have had their successes and failures like all human beings. But this time it’s Emmanuel Munaile vs Kamanga, and please, leave it to the councillors to decide!

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