CAF nominees reveal its bias: Aboutrieka dropped

The Glo-CAF nominees for the best African player this year was pruned down to three. Mohammad Aboutrieka was dropped of the list. Four out of the five players were from the European leagues and only Aboutrieka made the top five. Nwankwo Kanu of Nigeria/ Portsmouth was the other player dropped off the list. The list now includes Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast/ Chelsea, Michael Essien of Ghana/ Chelsea and Samuel Eto’o of Cameroun/ Barcelona.
Mohammad Aboutrieka’s exclusion shows the CAF’s bias for the bigger European leagues. Aboutrieka took Al Ahly to the FIFA Club World’s Championship where his superb skills earned Ahly a third place finish, the best in the history of African club soccer. He also got Al Ahly their record fifth Africa Cup of Nations and the CAF Champions League title in 2005 and 2006 with his goals.
The CAF again nominated Samuel Eto’o whose injuries have kept him on the Barca bench for a long time. Eto’o is a great player but to win an award like this, productivity should be of prime consideration. In fact, Frederic Kanoute has a better case for nomination bringing Sevilla to the top of the La Liga with his goal scoring. The only problem is that he plays for Mali, a country that is mostly overlooked in African soccer.
Mohammed Aboutreika’s exclusion from the African player of the year award is a disgrace. The CAF award should be given to the player who made the most impact on African soccer. Aboutreika single handedly put African club soccer on the world map leading Al Ahly to international glory. He is a low profile player known for his humility and dedication to the game. He leads a club that apart from a few exceptions, consists of Egyptian players. Al Ahly games are rarely shown on European TV channels but we get to see Drogba and Essien every weekend. Obviously CAF believes that high profile soccer stars playing in the bigger leagues deserve more.

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2 comments on “CAF nominees reveal its bias: Aboutrieka dropped
  1. Hi Shourin,
    I agree somewhat with your assertion that that the CAF should give the African Player of the Year award to the player who has made the greatest impact to African football. However it is hard to argue that someone who plies his trade is Africa is that person.
    It’s not just that the likes of Essien and Drogba are more televised and hence more popular, their level of play is consistently up against a higher standard than that in Africa. Subsequently by performing well on the ‘World’ /’European’/televised stage they do more for the African game by raising it’s profile. Thus neutrals and fans are more likely to base the respect they have for African football on them (Drogba, Essien, etc).
    Therefore it makes more sense to give them the award.
    If on the other hand the award is doled out based on performances or to the ‘best’ player of the last year – again European based players get the nod as they perform in a tougher cauldron than their counterparts in Africa.
    Conversely it’s easy to argue that by ignoring local talent the CAF is shooting itself in the foot. If they themselves do not recognise the African leagues and it’s players than who will? I believe your last paragraph deals with this issue – it is one that I accept is a problem.
    Perhaps the CAF can create a second award for African based players. However as things stand, based on merit, it is very hard to argue against Europe based players being given the nature of the award.

  2. Arjun
    I agree that there are different ways of measuring the impact of African soccer. And what Essien and Drogba have done deserves kudos. However, Chelsea fans would not care a whit to whether Essien or Drogba were from Africa, as long as they scored goals or contributed, it would be immaterial.
    That is not so in Al Ahly’s case as there is great pride in the fact that the team is comprised mainly of Egyptian players.
    Many English fans have the same problem with regards to Arsenal. There was so much made of the fact that in last year’s Chamionship final against Barca, Sol Campbell was the lone Englishman representing the Gunners.
    The easier route for most talented African players is to go to the foreign leagues. It is far rarer to see someone of Aboutrieka’s skill stay on in a local club and try and earn international accolades.
    All said and done, I agree that the CAF should do more to acknowledge the contribution of Africa based players.
    Best, Shourin

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