African Football Symposium: Opening Speech By CAF President Ahmad Ahmad

-   Ladies and gentlemen of the FIFA Council, - Ladies and gentlemen of the CAF Executive Committee,  -   Ladies and gentlemen...

- Ladies and gentlemen of the FIFA Council,

- Ladies and gentlemen of the CAF Executive Committee, 

- Ladies and gentlemen representing FIFA and related    
  Confederations,

- Ladies and gentlemen of the diplomatic corps,
- Presidents of Member Associations,
- Former players, stars of yesterday and today,

- Ladies and gentlemen of the technical team and 
   representatives of the press,
- Gentlemen representing referees, and the medical  
  corps,
- Marketing Partners of CAF,
- Ladies and gentlemen, 
- Distinguished guests, 
- Dear friends of the great African football family,


It is an honour and a great privilege for me to have the floor today before this illustrious assembly to open the working sessions of the largest gathering of the football family ever organized in Africa prior to this day.




We are doing it here, in Rabat, Morocco, land of confluence and hospitality, country of authenticity, homeland of a rich history of Pan-Africanism, and in a context that I like to recall: that is, Morocco was a founding member of the African Union Organisation, known today as African Union.



Being here in Morocco, why not talk about an unforgettable historic moment. Indeed, it was on January 4, 1961 in Casablanca that his Majesty Mohamed V, King of Morocco, initiated the Casablanca Conference, a real foundation for the creation of African unity.



And history always takes us back to history. Today, July 18, 2017 is Nelson Mandela Day, decreed by the United Nations to celebrate liberty, justice and democracy.



I was elected on March 16, 2017 in Addis-Ababa in Ethiopia in a hall named Nelson Mandela.



It is a feeling I thought of sharing with you.



Morocco has mobilised with an uncommon fervour to host us, all of us, and give us optimal conditions for work, concentration, reflection and decisions making, which, we hope will be determinant for the future of African football.



I am speaking most particularly to His Majesty King Mohamed VI of Morocco to express to him, on behalf of the football family, my heartfelt thanks, for accepting to patronise and bring together the large, very large pan African football family in this exceptional forum.



Through His Majesty, my expression of profound gratitude is to the Moroccan people for the efforts put forth by the Organising Committee of this event presided over by our colleague and friend, Fouzi Lekjaa, President of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation.



Lastly, my most sincere thanks go to all of you, honourable guests, participants, speakers, football stars, football technical officials, press representatives, and marketing partners, for accepting within three days to take part in this historic gathering of all the stakeholders of football.



I had longed for this meeting from the bottom of my heart even before my election.



Indeed, I always considered that despite the arduous tasks as football stakeholders and our numerous responsibilities at national level, such as to organize a federation, competitions, meetings and set up development programmes, we were missing a whole lot, almost the most important springboard of African football: coming together to learn from the past and project into the future.



In other words, the duty for us to meet to PUT EVERYTHING PLAIN ON THE TABLE, the good and the not-too-good truths, and based on the balance sheet, take off on a new and good footing. 



I am confident that we will be stronger and more determined after having cleared off our differences. 



As you no doubt know, I was elected based on an ambitious programme.  I promised to listen to all football undertakers of our Continent.



I have always said that I will take strategic decisions coherently with the Presidents of our National Associations and I do not have any intentions to withdraw from this obligation.



I reassure my colleagues and friends, and reiterate to them what I already said during my first CAF congress in Manama two months ago, that is: 



that I remain faithful to my commitments, attentive to their concerns, steadfast to my philosophy of a job well done.



I will manage CAF with the input and support of all African stakeholders and I hereby solemnly make a frank appeal to all stakeholders united by the love and passion of African football:
Not being afraid of saying some truths, that will reinforce and encourage us to rectify our stance and reduce our error margin.



Too many decisions were not being made in a timely manner in the interest of our football; too much dithering made us to be mere observers rather than actors of our own destiny.



We must end this situation. Henceforth, let us act in such a way that certain practices disappear forever, and let us militate to put up a good work spirit, an atmosphere of sharing, a manner of doing things that is more becoming of the times in which we live, in total transparency and truth. And this without fear of reprisals. 



The appeal I am submitting to you is that of making every effort to indispensably strike a consensus here in Rabat during these our historic session.



Let us be ready and united to take the train of reforms, which is indispensable for an African football that is part of a global process of modernity and good governance. 



Let us be ready to undertake useful reforms that invigorate and give depth to our future actions. 



CAF, our CAF, your CAF, is urgently in need of vitality: 



- of new work rules
- of creating new mechanisms to regenerate itself 
- of setting for itself new ambitions
- to ban the practice of clientelism and amateurism 



My ambition, our ambition should focus on an in-depth transformation of CAF, to, at last, birth an all new CAF, the fruit of our deep desire for change. 



I am personally determined to succeed at realizing this change with you.



My dear colleagues, dear friends, 



I must tell you the truth: today CAF is facing several trials, a reality I discovered in the Executive Committee when I took office.



We must act fast and efficiently, while safeguarding the highest interests of the Confederation.



We must come out of these challenges and focus on what is important: 
- to extirpate the evil that has for so long undermined the efforts of national associations in making reforms on ethics and deontology in African football.



I am confident and I say it very frankly: I would be unretractable in defending our stance and for a positive resolution of all these problems. 



Above all, I am firmly convinced that the political authorities of our countries will not hesitate to frankly and fully collaborate with us for the success of our mission.



Ladies and gentlemen, fellow colleagues and friends, you got it: our meeting of today is the strong signal of change that the management of African football wants to instil.



On my part, I remain convinced that the plan of action that will emerge from our work will be realistic and promising for the millions of football enthusiasts who have for so long hoped for this change.



You elected me on a ticket for change, which promises a new international dimension of CAF as a home for every African footballer.



I equally take this opportunity to announce that a great symposium entirely devoted to African football will be organised during the 1st trimester of 2018.



To conclude, I would like to include legendary footballers to these sessions.



Without you, African football would not have experienced these moments of glory, the unforgettable moments that we remember each time with pleasure and emotion.



I guarantee you that during my mandate, CAF will work to grant you better conditions for your personal and professional fulfilment.



Today, I urge you to work toward the same objectives: 
- give direction to the change,
- put in place rules that are fairer and more adapted to our football.



Like FIFA, the world football government body, here represented by its President, Gianni Infantino, CAF also must accept to undertake reforms and be mentioned in the history of confederations that have made of these reforms an absolute success. 



Mr. President, in your programme, you have brought back football at the centre of FIFA's activities. The significant increase of resources allocated by FIFA to the development of football within the framework of the FORWARD programme testifies of this.



Africa today is worthily represented within the decision-making instances of FIFA as well as in the implementation of the different programmes outlined in the New FIFA 2.0 Vision.



Be reassured Mr. President that the new management of CAF is fully part of this great transparency and accountability and all our member associations are grateful to you.



To end, may I say this:



Ladies and gentlemen, your massive attendance in this hall is very significant to my colleagues of the executive committee of CAF and to me as well. 
With you, I am convinced that the Symposium will be a great success and will lay the groundwork for sustainable change. 



Your work will be historic in nature, it is evident.Be creative, be critical, and above all, be constructive for in a few years, the coming generations will view you as the veritable architects of African football.



I wish full success to our works.



LONG LIVE AFRICAN FOOTBALL



LONG LIVE CAF



LONG LIVE TO THE FRIENDSHIP AMONG AFRICANS



Thank you for your attention.

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