/ 16 January 2006

Football legend says money is the root of evil

Cameroon football legend Roger Milla claimed that African football would be a lot healthier if there was more transparency over the finances and if administrators were held to account if money was missing.

The 53-year-old — whose four goals inspired Cameroon to the 1990 World Cup quarterfinals where they lost to England after extra-time — said it was criminal that the players suffered while the men in suits got richer.

”It is a complex problem,” admitted Milla, who was twice voted African footballer of the year.

”The majority of administrators are people that are untouchable.

”African football’s problem is money. It is imperative that those people aren’t allowed to touch the money.

”Nowadays when someone wants to become president or some other role in a federation, it is only for the money.

”It is not normal that one gives money to the federation, and the players don’t get any. It is also vital that no money disappears.

”Each federation must have an annual audit and even if just 10 francs are missing to know who to hold to account,” added Milla, who was speaking ahead of the African Nations Cup finals which get under way in Cairo on January 20.

Milla, who also appeared in the 1982 and 1994 World Cup finals, also addressed another of the burning issues in African football — the departure of hundreds of young African footballers abroad where large numbers of them end up unemployed and discarded by the clubs.

However he refused to blame the agents or managers of the clubs solely for the trafficking of players.

”The agents are not at fault,” said Milla.

”My message is for the parents. It is the parents that are selling their children.

”Some of the parents even remortgage their houses to pay for the airfares for their children hoping he is going to earn a lot of money.

”If this is to stop it has to start at home. It is vital that the children stay in their respective countries, that they play football but carry on studying.

”If he is really a good footballer, and reaches a certain level, then a club or an agent will notice and he can leave for Europe under better conditions.”

Milla also had harsh words for the continent’s ruling body, the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

”What I don’t understand about CAF, is that there are no footballers involved.

”Neither in the disciplinary commission nor any of the other commissions is there any footballer involved.

”People like me, George Weah or Abedi Pele, were shown the door. I do not understand that while Sepp Blatter [head of Fifa] is surrounded by former footballers CAF is not.” – Sapa-AFP