soccer ballHistorically, there has been a trend in world football, not only African. And that is that holding on to power at the head of a football organisation has proved ten times more difficult than getting to power in the first place.

 

As a matter of fact, this is not peculiar to football, as other sports have also been seen to be going through the same trend.

It is a tough life out there and anyone who envies sitting FA Presidents in today's age and times should have a real good think because the sun is not as bright as it looks from a distance!

Which makes one admire the genius of people like Joao Havelange, Sepp Blatter, Issa Hayatou (all in football) and the likes of someone like Lamin Diack (of the Athletics body IAAF, for example). What is common among these old men is that they held on to power for so long and only left when it truly became unbearable and got to be 'too much that it was embarrassing'!

Funny though, how the longevity of these iconic old men never filtered down to national bodies and how it has become so difficult for a president to stay on after a four-year debut term!

The likes of current CAF First Vice President Kwesi Nyantakyi, his second vice, Omari Constant of Ghana and DR Congo are a few of exceptions who have governed their respective countries for a while.

But a trend is certainly forming and the world is starting to take notice.

This year, for example, there are three notable FA elections pending in August where the current incumbents are trying to run for second terms. Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda readily come to mind. And the intrigues of unattractive politics have started to show in these countries which just give rise to the question - what really is it with running FAs that people really want to go to any lengths to get, or cling on to, as the case may be?

The incumbent in Tanzania Jamal Malinzi, clearly a popular man with the international media, and who many had thought would scale through has endured a few weeks to forget. Just when he thought everything was falling in place for him, he gets picked up by the law enforcement agencies in his country. His perceived offence? Corruption, embezzlement of funds. He is standing trial now, remanded in custody. This clearly puts paid to his election campaign as he is unable to do much from where he is right now.

No one knows the authenticity of the charges brought against Malinzi. Was there a political undertone? Surely the timing can be brought to question. However, one has to respect the laws of his land and hope that truth and justice will prevail in the end.

In Uganda, the youthful Modeste Magogo is riding into his second term with relative ease. Apparently his main contender has been disqualified following eligibility or integrity checks. And Magogo seems to be the only man standing. This should be good news to the newly appointed ex-officio CAF Executive Committee member.

Only thing is that a petition is floating around somewhere where he has been accused of selling 2014 World Cup tickets meant for his national compatriots, and that traces of the alleged sales transactions have been found in the United States.

A group of people have tasked the FIFA Ethics Committee to look into it with a view to punishing Magogo and prevent him from running for presidency.

Again, no one can confirm the validity of these claims and so far, with FIFA not responding as yet, might just be a ruse with no base.

It is known though, that Magogo and the government of Uganda are not really the best of pals, and the big operatives in the Sports Ministry would rather not have to deal with him for the next four years, if they had their way.

Then comes the case of Sierra Leone. Led at the moment by the only woman FA president in Africa (and one of only two in the world), Isha Johansen. Johansen has fought battles all through her first term in office - from ex-players, to ministers, to club owners and to alleged match fixing syndicates who have made Sierra Leone a haven.

Clearly, the government of the day in Freetown would not want this same woman to run rings around them for another four years. She is getting stronger and more powerful. She has made herself the darling of the global football world, got elected into CAF as the female executive committee member, and her stock is rising. She has taken it upon herself to raise the standard of women's football in her country and in Africa as a whole.

So yeah, she has more than enough to keep her busy for the next four years.

But she also wants to continue running Sierra Leone football, and consolidating on the foundations she has laid. Elections are due in August.

Only problem is that, like in Tanzania, Uganda and many countries we know, government don't want her there anymore and it is becoming ugly.

She had been arrested and released by anti-corruption body her country once before - a truly traumatic experience by her account.

So the questions are - why, if Malinzi, Magogo and Johansen can see the writing on the wall, put themselves through the trauma and stress of a bitter contest which they just might not succeed at? Does the hostility not clearly indicate that the country they want to fight for do not want the change and revolution they claim to want to bring to football?

Suffice to state that from the outside, one can see the strides each of these countries have taken in football. Who will forget Uganda's qualification for an AFCON after 38 years of trying?

Back to the questions, one also wonders, why is there a toxic air around the office of president of an FA after a first term? There is nothing wrong in ambition and no problem with aspiring candidates coming forward to state their case if they can offer better than the incumbent. Surely that is democracy. But where do we draw the line, and stop the bitterness and character assassination on both sides?

One thing is clear. With the bitterness that dominates and bedevils football elections, there are no winners. Rather, a generation of youngsters who have football as their main source of livelihood will be the main losers.

And we all must be concerned at this trend.