Hayatou Rejects 'Prejudice' Against Africa

By: Posted By Jovarie Downing
By: Posted By Jovarie Downing

(CNN) -- Africa is ready to host the Olympic Games for the first time despite "prejudice" against its capabilities, claims the continent's top soccer official.

Issa Hayatou, who has been president of the Confederation of African Football since 1987, told CNN that several African countries could stage the four-yearly competition.

South Africa has already successfully hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2010, the first African nation to do so, and Hayatou believes it can put on the other contender for the title of the planet's biggest sporting event.

"South Africa can definitely organize the Olympic Games, with its infrastructure, hotels, communications, transport," he said Saturday.

"I don't know if there are 10 countries in Europe that can be better than South Africa in that respect.

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Read: AFCON referee suspended after semifinal errors

The 66-year-old believes South Africa has done a good job of hosting this month's Africa Cup of Nations football tournament despite some small crowds and substandard playing surfaces.

"The challenge was to have a successful Africa Cup of Nations because some people thought we couldn't succeed because South Africa isn't at the top of the sport at the moment," said the Cameroonian, a member of the International Olympic Committee and also a FIFA vice-president.

"But the organizing committee showed a lot of effort and did everything to ensure that this competition would go well. Of course, all the stadiums are not full, unlike what happened at the World Cup but for an Africa Cup of Nations I think we've had a record attendance level.

"We have sold just over 750,000 tickets which is a very good result."

However, African football journalist O.G. Molefe told CNN that the tournament has been slightly disappointing despite some of the top players on show.

"They had set an amount of 500,000 tickets to be sold for the tournament, but I still think it's not enough," said Molefe, a correspondent for the broadcaster eNCA.

"Look at a game like Nigeria-Ivory Coast in the quarterfinals, one that you would have thought would be a sellout -- but it wasn't. It shows there is a lot of work for CAF to do to fill stadiums for such a tournament."

Read: Burkina Faso star's suspension overturned

Sunday's title match in Johannesburg will be between two-time champions Nigeria and first-time finalists Burkina Faso.

Emmanuel Emenike, left, celebrates after putting Nigeria 1-0 ahead against Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa.
Cheick Tiote leveled for the tournament favorite but Sunday Mba's 78th-minute winner earned Nigeria a semifinal clash against Mali.
The Ivory Coast's veteran captain Didier Drogba (left) had been hoping to win the continent's title for the first time.
Burkina Faso also went through to the last four, winning 1-0 against fellow first-time quarterfinalists Togo. An extra-time header from Jonathan Pitroipa earned "The Stallions" a clash with Ghana.

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<<< 1 2 3 4 >>> Nigerians end Ivory Coast's AFCON hopes
Substitute Didier Drogba (left) celebrates with Yaya Toure after the midfielder put the Ivory Coast 2-0 ahead near the end of the Africa Cup of Nations Group D match against Tunisia in Rustenburg.
Former Chelsea star Drogba had been dropped from the starting line-up for the first time in his international career, having been taken off during his country's opening match after failing to impress.
Manchester City star Toure, the two-time African player of the year, netted his second goal of the tournament in the 88th minute. Another substitute, Didier Ya Konan (No. 13) sealed the Ivorians' second successive win with the third goal at Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
Striker Gervinho, who plays for English club Arsenal, scored the opening goal in the 21st minute. He also netted a late winner in the opening match against Togo. Emmanuel Adebayor helped Togo bounce back from that 2-1 defeat as the Sparrowhawks' captain scored in a 2-0 win against Algeria which put the Ivorians into the quarterfinals and eliminated the north Africans with one match still to play.

Drogba dropped by Ivory CoastDrogba dropped by Ivory CoastDrogba dropped by Ivory CoastDrogba dropped by Ivory CoastDrogba dropped by Ivory CoastDrogba dropped by Ivory CoastHIDE CAPTION
<<< 1 2 3 4 5 6 >>> Drogba dropped by Ivory Coast
The fabrication of players' ages continues to be a problem for football. One international -- Democratic Republic of Congo defender Chancel Mbemba Mangulu -- has "four different birthdays".
Mbemba was recently with the Congolese squad at the Africa Cup of Nations. He is pictured here, standing behind the team's French coach Claude Leroy, in a training session. Mbemba was not used by Leroy in the tournament.
The Democratic Republic of Congo went out of the competition at the group stage after drawing all three of their games.
Mbemba was born in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa, as was another of the city's most famous sons French midfielder Claude Makelele, who played for Nantes, Marseille, Real Madrid, Chelsea and Paris Saint Germain.
Africa's second biggest country, the Democratic Republic of Congo has seen more than its fair share of violence and its citizens are some of the poorest in the world.
Mbemba was registered by his first Congolese club - E.S. La Grace -- as having been born on August 8, 1988, according to one of the documents obtained by CNN. The documents -- showing Mbemba's various ages -- were provided by the Brazilian agent Paulo Teixeira, who was called in by E.S. La Grace to obtain money they claimed was owed to them by Anderlecht for training the player in his formative years. In attempting verification of these documents -- from FIFA, the various federations and clubs involved -- only the world governing body and the Belgian Football Assocation responded directly to CNN's request by saying they appeared to be authentic.
In another document obtained by CNN, Mbemba was registered by his second Congolese club -- Mputu -- as also having been born on August 8,1988.
When Mbemba obtained a Belgian citizenship document in July 2011, a month after he arrived in Europe, his date of birth is now dated August 8, 1994.
That meant when Mbemba played for Anderlectht's Under-19 team against Club Brugge in September 2011, the Congolese defender was now six years younger than when he had been playing for his first two Congolese clubs. A professional Belgian referee confirmed to CNN that the Anderlecht team sheet was the type of document used in Belgian football.
The Fédération Congolaise de Football-Association -- FECOFA -- regulates football in the Democratic Republic of Congo. FECOFA's president is Constant Omari and is pictured here walking behind president of the Confederation of African Football Issa Hayatou (R) in January 2010.
In April 2012, Anderlecht confirmed in a letter to FIFA that Mbemba had been sent back to Kinshasa, but later that year he returned to the Brussels club. The Belgian FA confirmed that this document is geniune.
In April 2012, Mbemba was sent back to the Congo, but by August 2012 he was back at Anderlecht when he was given a three-year professional contract. Anderlecht's general manager Herman van Holsbeeck is pictured here sitting in the club's stadium watching a first-team training session.
The Congolese players of Frenchman Leroy, who is pictured here, went on a two-day strike just before the start of the Africa Nations Cup following a row with the country's football federation over bonus payments. Leroy's side came back from 2-0 down to deny Ghana victory in their first game of Group B at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Anderlecht have a number of Congolese players in their squad and the Brussels club's forward Dieumerci Mbokani was recently elected Belgium's player of the year.
The Democractic Republic of Congo's progress at the Africa Cup of Nations was avidly followed back in Kinshasa.

The four ages of MbembaNational serviceFinal preparationsKinshasa's sonsScarredBirthday boyClass of 1988Paperwork trailFEOCOFACongolese federationReturn to KinshasaChange of heartBonus rowFightbackCongolese connectionKinshasa big screenHIDE CAPTION
<<< 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 >>> Age fabrication controversy in football: The player with 'four ages' "It's a competition that's created a lot of surprises," Hayatou said. "If I'm honest Nigeria is a big football team but Burkina Faso never reached that level before.

"So although it's a surprise it's a good surprise because Nigeria and Burkina have produced a good quality of football and that's been satisfying to see. If they show us in the final what we saw in the quarterfinals and the semifinals it will be a very beautiful final that the whole world will enjoy."

Molefe said Nigeria's "Super Eagles" had done well to reach their first final since losing on home soil in 2000, with coach Stephen Keshi leaving out several big-name Europe-based players for the tournament.

"I don't think many people would have predicted that the Super Eagles would get to the final," he said.

"To have reached this stage has been a big surprise but they've got a lot of great players who have played very well. Not a lot of people gave them a chance of beating the Ivory Coast."

Read: FIFA investigating age fraud

Keshi is waiting until the last minute to decide on the fitness of four-goal Emmanuel Emenike and Victor Moses, who has netted twice in the tournament, after the key forward duo suffered injuries in the semifinal win over Mali.

The Burkinabe have been boosted by the rescinding of Jonathan Pitroipa's sending-off against Ghana, with officials admitting he should not have received a second booking.

At the beginning of the tournament it was Cape Verde being the fairytale story but now it's moved to Burkina Faso," Molefe said.

"They've done well to reach this point. I think with Jonathan Pitroipa coming back to play the final after getting that red card it's going to be a big motivation for them to go out and pull off a big upset."

Meanwhile, Mali claimed third place for the second year in a row after beating Ghana 3-1 in a rematch of the 2012 playoff.

Mali led 2-0 through a diving header by Mahamadou Samassa and Seydou Keita's third goal of the tournament, but Ghana's Wakaso Mubarak missed the chance to net his fifth when he blazed a 58th-minute penalty over the bar in the pouring rain at Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

The Black Stars, who won the last of their four African titles in 1982, got back into the game in the 82nd minute when Mali goalkeeper Soumbeïla Diakite was completely wrongfooted by a speculative long-range shot by Kwadwo Asamoah.

However, substitute Sigamary Diarra settled the match in time added on to give some cheer to a country embroiled in conflict between Islamist rebel forces, government troops and the French military.

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