Liberia honour VAR: Why Weah is on and offside with Wenger medal

Back home, the argument was that giving the highest national honour had to reflect the magnitude of the recipient’s contribution to the country. That Wenger had undoubtedly done so much for Weah as a

Liberia’s president George Weah recently conferred his country’s highest honour on ex-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. The move elicited varied responses for and against the action.



One thing was clear, that the criticisms were not going to have the potency to flag the event offside. So it took place in Monrovia, August 24, as Weah decorated the Frenchman man who discovered him way back in 1988.



Back home, the argument was that giving the highest national honour had to reflect the magnitude of the recipient’s contribution to the country. That Wenger had undoubtedly done so much for Weah as a person and not Liberia as a country.



Others averred, much as the president could award honours, the category he had chosen to confer on Wenger reflected a personal will than that of the Liberian people.



Then a minister stepped in to explain / justify why Wenger and why the highest national award. In summary, he said the award was even beyond Wenger’s impact on Liberia but on Africa as a whole – given the opportunities he gave African players whiles coaching.



Information Minister Eugene Nagbe in response to criticisms of the award told the BBC the award was not only about Wenger’s impact on Weah alone but a way to recognize that the Frenchman had “contributed to sports in Africa and has given many Africans opportunities.”



For those that see the move as justified, they argue that the president is well within his powers to confer an award on any individual he deems fit. That he would hardly have unilaterally done so without the agreement of an advisory council.



Again, they advance the argument that long before Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leila Gbowee were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Liberia was best known for its protracted deadly and devastating civil war.



The days when any glimmer of hope and stability was shattered with the taking of arms, when Liberia’s internal crisis threatened an entire sub-region principally Sierra Leone, when nationals were scattered around West Africa as they fled the war back home.



In those days, there was the ‘patriotic’ young man called George Weah, a young man who gave Liberians something to rally around. He brought football to citizens home and abroad.



Weah is on record to have singlehandedly financed travels of the national team across Africa as they engaged in qualifiers for tournaments or even to play in friendly games – he was in essence the main financier of national team football in Liberia.



Winning international accolades over the time also brought Liberia to the fore and he took the opportunity at every turn to file for peace back home. Weah knew that his journey started three decades ago thanks to Wenger signing him for Toulouse.



The two went their separate ways as Wenger took on Arsenal years later whiles Weah travelled around Europe making a name for himself.



So the argument about Wenger’s impact on Liberia for some, is tied to Weah’s overall impact on the country especially through the years of turmoil. For others, Weah could probably not convince any other president to award Wenger that kind of medal.



The final whistle has since been blown and Liberia’s national honours has in it that Arsene Wenger is a Knights Grand Commander, Humane Order of African Redemption (KGC-HOAR) thanks to President George Weah.





Shaban Abdur Rahman Alfa

Africanews, Digital Journalist

alfa.shaban@africanews.com

@AlfaAfrican

AFCON 2019: South Africa, Zimbabwe, DRC, Tanzania and Benin qualify as campaign wraps up

Tanzania joins fellow East Africans Uganda, Burundi and Kenya at the finals in Cairo

South Africa became the 24th and last country to qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations after a 2-1 win over Libya in Sfax, Tunisia on Sunday. Along with Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Benin, the Bafana Bafana swept up the five remaining spots for the finals in Egypt on the last day of the qualifying campaign.

Zimbabwe edged the Republic of Congo 2-0 in Harare to top Group G while DR Congo beat Liberia 1-0 in Kinshasa to secure second spot.

President Felix Tshisekedi was among thousands of fans who cheered on the national team as they wrapped up a difficult qualifying campaign.

Tanzania beat Uganda in Dar es Salaam 3-0 to qualify as Group L runners up. Uganda had already qualified with a game to spare.

In Cotonou, Benin beat Togo 2-1 to qualify from Group D. North African giants Algeria led the group.

Earlier on Saturday, Burundians partied late into the night as they celebrated their country’s historic qualification to the Africa Cup of Nations.

Burundi drew 1-1 with Gabon in Bujumbura to finish second in Group C and secured a spot in the Nations Cup finals for the first time in their history. Mali topped the group.

Cedric Amissi scored in the 76th minute as Burundi, who only needed a draw to qualify, looked to have sealed their place at Egypt 2019.

Burundi joins fellow East Africans Uganda and Kenya at the finals in Cairo.

Gabon’s Arsenal striker Aubameyang had a largely quiet afternoon and they were unable to get the second goal they needed to reach the finals.

Also on Saturday, title holders Cameroon qualified after beating Comoros 3-0 in Yaounde. Guinea Bissau and Namibia also qualified.

The 24 countries that will play at the AFCON finals are: Egypt (hosts), Algeria, Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Benin and South Africa.

United Nations backs S. Africa's Semenya in case against IAAF

South African 800-metres double Olympic champion Semenya is seeking to overturn a new set of IAAF regulations that are aimed at lowering the testosterone levels of hyperandrogenic athletes.

United Nations backs Semenya

Semenya received support from the United Nations this week as they adopted a resolution tabled by South Africa “aimed at eliminating discrimination against women and girls in sport, giving significant global weight from a human rights perspective to Caster Semenya’s case”, according to a media release from the South African government.

The resolution was co-sponsored by Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland), Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Burundi, India, Iceland and Canada.

“The international campaign to preserve Caster’s right to participate in global sports is a struggle for all women in the world against discrimination, sexism, and patriarchy,” South Africa’s minister of international relations and cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu, said.

CAS has called the hearing one of its most pivotal cases that could have a wide reaching consequence, not just for the future of athletics, but sport in general.

Semenya optimistic

Lawyers representing double Olympic 800-metres champion Caster Semenya said on Friday she is “optimistic” of success in her appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over eligibility regulations in athletics for female classification.

“Caster Semenya remains optimistic that CAS will declare the IAAF’s Regulations unlawful, invalid and of no effect,” Semenya’s lawyers said in a statement on Friday, confirming at the same time that the athlete had made additional submissions to CAS following “post-hearing communications from the IAAF”.

They did not go into detail as to what those submissions were in relation to.

CAS postpones verdict

Five days before it was to deliver a verdict on the case between South Africa’s star athlete Caster Semenya and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said on Thursday it would postpone its decision until the end of April.

South African 800-metres double Olympic champion Semenya is seeking to overturn a new set of IAAF regulations that are aimed at lowering the testosterone levels of hyperandrogenic athletes.

The IAAF contend that Semenya and other female athletes that are classed as having differences in sexual development (DSDs) gain an unfair advantage due to their higher testosterone levels, but only in races between 400 and 1,000-metres.

READ MORE: How the case between Semenya and IAAF unfolded

Under its new rules, athletes classed as having DSDs must reduce their blood testosterone level to below five (5) nmol/L for a continuous period of six months before they can compete. They must then maintain it below that level continuously.

A wide coalition has rallied behind Semenya’s cause, including the government in her native South Africa and rights activists worldwide.

Some scientific experts have argued that barring Semenya from competition due to naturally high testosterone levels would be like excluding basketball players because they are too tall.

CAS explains delay

CAS have called the hearing “one of the most pivotal CAS cases” that could have a wide reaching consequence not just for the future of athletics, but sport in general.

The body had been expected to announce its decision on March 26, six months prior to the World Championships in Doha.

It said on Thursday that since the Feb. 18-22 hearing, the parties have filed additional submissions and materials. No specific date for the decision has been set.

IAAF reacts to delay

The IAAF said that, given the delay, it would alter the six-month rule for the world championships in Qatar in September and introduce a “special transitional period” so that affected athletes could still compete.

“The IAAF has decided that the delay should not prejudice the affected athletes,” it said in a statement.

It added that, assuming its new regulations were upheld, affected athletes who comply with the new limit from one week after the final CAS decision until the start of the world championships in September would be allowed to take part.

Agencies

Sports court delays verdict on Semenya's case against IAAF

South African 800-metres double Olympic champion Semenya is seeking to overturn a new set of IAAF regulations that are aimed at lowering the testosterone levels of hyperandrogenic athletes.

Five days before it was to deliver a verdict on the case between South Africa’s star athlete Caster Semenya and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said on Thursday it would postpone its decision until the end of April.

South African 800-metres double Olympic champion Semenya is seeking to overturn a new set of IAAF regulations that are aimed at lowering the testosterone levels of hyperandrogenic athletes.

The IAAF contend that Semenya and other female athletes that are classed as having differences in sexual development (DSDs) gain an unfair advantage due to their higher testosterone levels, but only in races between 400 and 1,000-metres.

READ MORE: How the case between Semenya and IAAF unfolded

Under its new rules, athletes classed as having DSDs must reduce their blood testosterone level to below five (5) nmol/L for a continuous period of six months before they can compete. They must then maintain it below that level continuously.

A wide coalition has rallied behind Semenya’s cause, including the government in her native South Africa and rights activists worldwide.

Some scientific experts have argued that barring Semenya from competition due to naturally high testosterone levels would be like excluding basketball players because they are too tall.

CAS explains delay

CAS have called the hearing “one of the most pivotal CAS cases” that could have a wide reaching consequence not just for the future of athletics, but sport in general.

The body had been expected to announce its decision on March 26, six months prior to the World Championships in Doha.

It said on Thursday that since the Feb. 18-22 hearing, the parties have filed additional submissions and materials. No specific date for the decision has been set.

IAAF reacts to delay

The IAAF said that, given the delay, it would alter the six-month rule for the world championships in Qatar in September and introduce a “special transitional period” so that affected athletes could still compete.

“The IAAF has decided that the delay should not prejudice the affected athletes,” it said in a statement.

It added that, assuming its new regulations were upheld, affected athletes who comply with the new limit from one week after the final CAS decision until the start of the world championships in September would be allowed to take part.

Agencies

Italian giants AS Roma launch pidgin English Twitter account

It is the first official account that targets a strictly African audience with the club stating in a March 20 statement that « it will help serve the audience on a daily basis in a style that suits the

AS Roma, the Italian football giants, continue their cozy engagement with its African audience especially Nigerians with the launch of a Twitter account operated with pidgin English.

It is the first official account that targets a strictly African audience with the club stating in a March 20 statement that “it will help serve the audience on a daily basis in a style that suits them.”

The club has since the run up to the 2018 World Cup developed a relationship with Nigerians through the national football team – the Super Eagles. Their Twitter account has also celebrated football clubs across the world with a special focus on African clubs.

“The new account – which is being run out of Lagos and can be followed at @ASRomaPidgin – was set up after fans in Nigeria contacted the club to request an account to cater specifically for Naija (Nigeria) Twitter.

“Roma’s popularity amongst Nigerian football fans has been growing ever since the club featured Lagos radio personality Mark Otabor’s epic commentary of Roma’s comeback against Barcelona on the club’s English Twitter account and then ‘adopted’ Nigeria’s Super Eagles at the World Cup,” an official statement read.

“After Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup and we chose to support the Super Eagles, followers in Nigeria have been asking for a Pidgin English Roma account,” Roma’s Head of Strategy, Paul Rogers said.

With the launch of the new Pidgin English account, the Rome-based team now interacts in 13 different languages with fans on social media.

Other official accounts are operated in their native Italian, English, Arabic, Indonesian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Bosnian, Turkish, Dutch, Farsi and Chinese.

Much of African support for European football is concentrated in the English Premier League – between Manchester, Liverpool and Arsenal. In Spain, support is predominantly between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

The Milans – AC and Inter plus Juventus are also widely followed. AS Roma has in the last year made inroads with the management style of its English Twitter handle.

CAF Competions produce quarter finalists

African Champions League last day of play in the group stages produces some spectacular statistics with current holders Esperance and TP Mazembe making the cross over. Quarter finalist of both African

African Champions League last day of play in the group stages produces some spectacular statistics with current holders Esperance and TP Mazembe making the cross over.

Raja of Casablanca crashes out of the group stage as six other North African teams book places in the last 8 of the Confederations cup.

Spanish football is on the move to increase it’s fan base in Africa, the competition’s managing director has been canvassing potential ties on the continent.

Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Piere Aubameyang all in the top five goal scoring chat in the English top flight.