New king, new law, they say.
This was Ahmad’s first African Footballer of the Year awards as CAF President since his appointment 296 days ago. It was interesting to note at Thursday night’s ceremony that there have been some modifications.
Here are five things that changed:
Scrapping of the Footballer of the Year (based in Africa) and the best referee categories
In past editions, these categories were staples. The last winners of Referee of the Year and African Player of the Year (based in Africa) were Gambia’s Bakary Gassama and Uganda’s Denis Onyango respectively.
Ahmad in a poresser stated the need to take away these two awards for various reasons. The Best Referee of the year award was omitted because the reward could breed corruption in the refereeing industry. According to the Malagasy the best Referees on the continent already officiate the big tournaments on the continent and abroad, hence no need for an award.
The CAF President stated that the need to encourage excellence necessitated the crowning of African players on the continent; because they are capable of being crowned the best footballer of the year.
For the first time there were four hosts for the CAF Awards. Hollywood stars Boris Kodjoe and his wife, Nicole Ari Parker-Kodjoe introduced the entertainment acts including Tiwaa Savage, Wizkid, Patoranking and others, while two-time African Footballer of the Year, Didier Drogba and SuperSport presenter, Carol Tsahabala, handled the award presentations. The inclusion of the Ivorian was a breath of fresh air to the organization of the awards as it was a plus to see the 2006 and 2009 best player co-anchor.
A hallmark of the awards used to be the lengthy speech of former CAF President Issa Hayatou, in French, with no interpretation. This was not the case in Accra as the new CAF boss was bilingual in his speech, speaking English and French. The charisma exhibited by Ahmad during the speech delivery, definitely gave a new wave to the event, giving the audience a chance to connect with his thoughts. This definitely ends the alienation felt by the Anglophone countries.
All female nominees present
A novel twist to the history of the awards was that all three contenders for the best African Female Player of the Year were present at the ceremony. The 2017 nominees Asisat Oshoala, Chrestina Kgatlana, Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene were in attendance, unlike in recent years when only the winner was invited.
The 2016 event’s backlash at the disparity between the treatment meted out to the nominees of female African Footballer of the Year and their male counterparts, likely helped in ensuring that CAF righted the wrong. Moving forward CAF should add a bit of pomp and pageantry by making all female nominees also line up at the podium before announcing the winner.
It has become the norm at the CAF Awards to serve food to the invited guests. Several choice meals are served to all invitees giving the awards a dinner flair. It had been hugely criticized by some connoisseurs of the game as it prolonged the event. There was an introduction of a cocktail prior to the commencement of the show where invited guests were able to socialize and interact.
Congratulations to Mohammed Salah, as the Egyptian was crowned African Footballer of the Year while Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala took the Women’s player of the year.
There is also however the saying somethings never change, as music performances were long and winding, just like in previous versions and the event didn’t start on time.
Akosua Addai Amoo is a sports writer. Get her at @akosuaamoo.
Source: Akosua Addai Amoo