- Ghana can be touted as one of the football powerhouses in post-colonial Africa, thanks to the efforts of Kwame Nkrumah
- The ‘winds of change’ that blew across Africa saw the majority of Africans fight for their independence in emulation of Nkrumah’s Ghana
- FIFA officially confirmed Ghana as an affiliate member in 1958
- Nkrumah proposed an African clubs championships in 1964
- He asked Africa to boycott the world cup if FIFA would not give her a place of representation
- FIFA eventually gave up and the 1970 World Cup, saw Africa and Asia given a slot each
- He would by his qualities be my FIFA president ahead Gianni Infantino
EDITOR’S NOTE: I am prompted to write this piece on no less an occasion than Ghana’s 59 independence anniversary. The man who led the revolution, Ghana’s first president, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, kept tossing up on my mind till the revolution that he brought in sports came up.
Yes he was a revolutionist and he ruled with a dream. The man known as Osagyefo for his bravery turned everything he touched into gold; and how I wish he was alive to change things around in football. Politics and football they say are bedfellows in Africa and I would even have made him my FIFA president.
Football in the world and Africa in particular, cannot be made mentioned of without Ghana’s contribution.
Ghana can legitimately be touted as one of the football powerhouses in post-colonial Africa, thanks to the efforts of Kwame Nkrumah.
The ‘winds of change’ saw the majority of African states fight for their independence in emulation of Nkrumah’s Ghana who was the first Sub-Saharan African state to gain independence in 1957.
As forward looking as he was, he made sure Ghana was affiliated with FIFA just after her independence. FIFA officially confirmed Ghana as an affiliate member in 1958 when some countries on the Sub-saharan continent had barely found independence.
Nkrumah’s dream for African football was big and he began instilling his ideas of a united Africa amongst his peers.
He saw he needed to carry along CAF on his revolutionary wings and therefore challenged them in 1964 when he said:
“Africa can ill-afford to lag behind in any sphere of life. I therefore charge you to organize Africa’s version of the European Cup for club championship with this trophy.”
The then CAF president, General Mustapha, was overawed and made a public declaration to Nkrumah that, CAF “shall not fail him and the continent.” CAF went ahead with the organization which has become successful till today.
Nkrumah soon spread his tentacles into FIFA and became a thorn in their flesh.
African and Asian teams had to engage in a play-off match against a European team to gain a place at the World Cup.
FIFA moved from that arrangement and allocated one qualifying spot for CAF and AFC (the Asian Football Confederation) for the 1966 World Cup held in England, thinking that would be enough to catch the eye of the newly independent African and Asian States.
Nkrumah would not fall for that. One slot was not enough for Africa and along with others; Osagyefo arranged a boycott of the FIFA World Cup by all African teams.
Africa displayed a great show of unity that caught the world off guard; the Pan-Africanist boycott was a success and achieved its result.
FIFA eventually gave up and the 1970 World Cup, saw Africa and Asia given a slot each.
So imagine what it would look like, if Kwame Nkrumah were to be competing against Gianni Infantino, Tokyo Sexwale, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, and Jerome Champagne in Zurich.
He would have whole heartedly been given Africa’s vote en block and Asia will feel obliged to vote for him. As for the rest, he would as usual sweep them off their feet and get their votes.
We then would have had a FIFA bereft of corruption and all the vices the body has found itself embroiled in.