When the final shortlist for the CAF Awards was released last month, two categories were not listed. These are the “Player of the Year-based in Africa” and the Referee of the Year. Nigeria’s Oluwafemi Ajayi who is better known as Junior Ajayi and plays for Al Ahly of Egypt was one of the front runners for the Player of the Year based in Africa Award having been listed in the initial 30-man list and made the cut, when it was streamlined to 11.
But the ambition has now gone in smoke. CAF President, Ahmad, explained in Accra on Wednesday that scrapping of the category was to maintain excellence.
“We felt that a double standard could not be promoted by awarding distinctions for second choice. When you aim for excellence, you must rise to the highest standards.
“The goal is to work for the best players to stay on the continent. One can evolve in Africa and be the best player in Africa. We must create the conditions to keep the best on the continent.
“I will take the example of Trésor Mputu, who certainly had the talent to go to Europe and be among the best Africans. But the president of TP Mazembe, Moise Katumbi, provided the means to keep him at the club.
“We are convinced that we can multiply similar situations on the continent and have one day the best African player who plays in Africa”. He offered similar explanations for the scrapping of the category “Referee of the Year”.
“Referees already have their rewards and marks of recognition. They are evaluated at each match by the Referees’ Committee and the best are designated for big games such as the CAF Champions League final.
“In addition, there is a risk of violation of ethical rules because this distinction can be a factor of corruption in the near future”.