Liberian Soccer Association (LFA) president Musa Bility’s bid to become the next International Soccer Federation (FIFA) president has been quashed by the Confederation of African Soccer (CAF), which is the largest voting bloc in international soccer with 54 votes.
The head of his country’s soccer association since 2010, Bility was among four candidates seeking to replace Sepp Blatter as FIFA’s president. The others are South Korean, Chung Mong-Joon; Brazilian Zico and European Soccer Association president, Michel Platini.
The CAF said its executive committee decided unanimously not to provide Bility with the support he needed.
The Liberian has had a strained relationship with the CAF in the last few years.
In 2011, Bility declared he would vote against Blatter in that year’s FIFA elections in contrast to most of his African colleagues. A year later, he and his association took a case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport over changes to the way in which the CAF elects its president which favoured incumbent Issa Hayatou, who has been the CAF president since 1988.
The court ruled twice against the LFA and in 2013 Bility was banned from all soccer activity by CAF after the governing body said he violated statutes relating to the use of confidential documents.
Bility needed the written endorsement of at least five soccer associations to get on the ballot for the election to choose a replacement for outgoing president Sepp Blatter. The deadline for candidates to register is October 26.
Despite not gaining their approval, Bility said he was privileged to have had the opportunity to meet the entire CAF executive committee to answer questions and concerns.
“I did not go to get a unanimous vote,” he said. “I was given an opportunity to explain and lay my platform. That’s why I went and I am happy I got it. There is a nomination process going on and the door for other people in Africa remains open. Until that door closes, CAF cannot unanimously support me.”
Bility is only the second African to make a bid for the job after Hayatou, who turned 69 last Sunday, lost to Blatter 13 years ago.
Meanwhile, new Nigeria coach Sunday Oliseh is eager to justify his hiring. The 40-year-old, who signed a three-year deal last month, succeeds Stephen Keshi, who was sacked at the start of July.
After coaching a lower league Belgian side six years ago, he was a sports consultant and FIFA technical committee member.
“People are saying I have never coached at this level before,” he said. “The only answer I can give is, ‘Can they name to me one African former player that has been able to coach any first division team in Europe’? It’s not a question of lack of effort. I got my coaching badge from the English Soccer Association more than five years ago and I have been working with the FIFA technical study group. So it’s not through lack of trying. It’s a question of the fact that at this moment, there doesn’t seem to be openings for African coaches in Europe.”
Oliseh retired from international soccer in 2006 after making 54 appearances for his country from 1993-2002.
He promises to look beyond Nigeria to recruit talent for the national squad.
“You can bet your money that I am looking at players with Nigerian heritage who have been born or brought up in other countries,” said the former Borussia Dortmund and Juventus midfielder. “I have no choice. Most of these players, let’s be honest, very few of them get to play in other nations for a long time. With Nigeria, they will get that chance if they are good. It’s definitely something we are looking at and we have started making moves. They would be welcomed with open arms and we will do all we can to put them in the best situation if they decide to play for Nigeria because we need them.”
In other news, eight African nations are in the Top 50 in world soccer in the latest FIFA rankings released last week.
Algeria, the continent’s leading team and four-time World Cup qualifier, heads the list at #19 followed by Ivory Coast (21), Ghana (27), Tunisia (34), Senegal (39), Cameroon (42), Congo (43) and Cape Verde (50).
Seven-time African champions Egypt and Nigeria, which has won the regional tournament on three occasions, are ranked 52nd and 53rd respectively.