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WEEKLY WHINE

Schmilblick Patrol: Issa Hayatou

Edvard: Hey! Hi everyone! Hello! Thank you! Yes, thank you! Welcome! Welcome once again to the game where we try to figure out how the world works. It’s GoobNet’s Adventures of the Schmilblick Patrol! We’ve got some patrollers here who are eager to discover our participant’s Schmilblick, and win some great prizes along the way. So, are you ready to meet this week’s participant? Well, here he is. He’s a longtime football administrator in Africa. He started as secretary general of the Fédération Camerounaise de Football, and since then he’s risen through the ranks to become the president of the Confédération Africaine de Football, a post he’s held for more than twenty years. Under his leadership, CAF has expanded to over fifty member nations, its showpiece Africa Cup of Nations has expanded to sixteen teams, and for the first time this year, one of its members will host the FIFA World Cup. Joining us on the Schmilblick Patrol today, please welcome CAF president Issa Hayatou!

Issa: Good afternoon, Edvard.

Edvard: Issa, hello. Welcome to our programme. It’s good to have you here. You were just in Angola.

Issa: Yes, we had a very successful Cup of Nations. Egypt have now won it three times consecutively. I congratulate them.

Edvard: As do we. All right. Issa, welcome. Would you like to meet our patrollers?

Issa: I would like that very much.

Edvard: Me too. Let’s meet them. First, here from Cairo, Egypt, is Jalafi.

Jalafi: Hello Edvard.

Edvard: Rose from Brighton, England, UK.

Rose: Hi.

Edvard: And Manuel from Port Hill, Togo.

Manuel: Hi.

Edvard: Welcome to all of you. Good luck today. Issa, what is your Schmilblick today?

Issa: My Schmilblick is: Why Togo were suspended from the next two Africa Cup of Nations tournaments.

Edvard: Okay. That sounds like a challenge. Why Togo were suspended from the 2012 and 2014 African Nations Cups. I’m sure we all know the story. Patrollers, if you can determine Issa’s Schmilblick, you will all be headed to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. You’ll get tickets to the opening match between South Africa and Mexico, and you’ll get to meet South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira. But if you can’t determine his Schmilblick in eighteen questions, Issa will win. Issa, in that case, you will be headed to the 2010 Burning the Clocks winter solstice festival in Brighton. You’ll get tickets to the VIP reception, and you’ll get to meet some of the top lantern makers. So there’s a lot to play for today. Patrollers, are you ready?

Rose: Yes!

Manuel: Ready.

Jalafi: Ready!

Edvard: Issa, are you ready?

Issa: Yes, I am.

Edvard: Then let’s go on patrol! Jalafi, you may ask the first question.

Jalafi: Hello Mr Hayatou.

Issa: Hello.

Jalafi: My first question is this. Was Togo’s decision to withdraw from the Africa Cup of Nations made by the government of Togo?

Issa: Yes, it was.

Edvard: Okay. Good start. That is one down, and seventeen to go. Rose, let’s have your first question.

Rose: Thank you. Mr Hayatou, did the players of Togo wish to continue playing in the tournament?

Issa: We do not know. After the attack, several of the players were quoted in media reports as saying that they would play, prior to the team being recalled by the government.

Edvard: So your answer would be “sort of”?

Issa: A definite “sort of”.

Edvard: Okay. Good. Well, hopefully that will help you, patrollers. Two down and sixteen to go. And before we continue, let’s meet our patrollers. Manuel, hi.

Manuel: Hello Edvard.

Edvard: You are from Port Hill in Togo.

Manuel: I am.

Edvard: So you can hardly be said to be an independent observer in this matter.

Manuel: Yes, Edvard. I was shocked and saddened by the attack on the Sparrowhawks. But I am bitterly disappointed at the CAF’s reaction to the attack, and I hope that today I will learn the real reason for this behaviour.

Edvard: Okay. Well, thank you for being here. What will be your first question for Issa?

Manuel: Mr Hayatou, I would like to know. If Togo had continued to play in the Cup of Nations, would security provided to the team have increased?

Issa: We were confident in the level of security being provided. We saw no need to increase security levels for Togo or for any other team.

Edvard: And yet the attack still took place.

Issa: It occurred while the team were still in transit. The confederation is not responsible for providing security until the team arrives in the city in which its matches are played.

Edvard: Which will be little consolation, I’m afraid. That is three down and fifteen to go, then. Jalafi, hi.

Jalafi: Hello Edvard.

Edvard: What do you do in Cairo?

Jalafi: I am a graduate student.

Edvard: Studying what?

Jalafi: I am now working toward a PhD in sports administration.

Edvard: So you too have some personal interest in this matter.

Jalafi: Well, like you, Manuel, I was horrified at the news of this terrible attack. I believe that we all were. I hope that someday soon, all combatants will agree that all sportsmen and women are off limits. And I hope that if I do indeed work in the field of sports administration, I can hopefully make a contribution to help us reach that point.

Edvard: Well, I too hope you are successful in that area. In the meantime, what question would you like to ask of Issa next?

Jalafi: Mr Hayatou, did the government of Togo request additional protection?

Issa: They did, yes.

Edvard: And that request was rejected.

Issa: Yes, for the reason I just mentioned.

Edvard: All right. So that is four down, fourteen to go. Rose, hi.

Rose: Hi Edvard.

Edvard: We mentioned the Burning the Clocks festival in Brighton.

Rose: Yes.

Edvard: What is that?

Rose: It is great fun. It is basically a parade to the beach in Brighton, in which people take along paper lanterns and the like.

Edvard: These are all homemade.

Rose: Yes, that’s right. The lanterns are then thrown into a great bonfire, which is accompanied by a massive fireworks display.

Edvard: But last year it was cancelled.

Rose: Yes. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate with us. But we are hoping to return this December with the greatest Burning the Clocks yet.

Edvard: We look forward to that. But right now we look forward to your next question.

Rose: Thank you. Mr Hayatou, did the government of Togo believe that the players could be targeted again if they remained in Angola?

Issa: I am not in a position to speculate about any government’s internal policies.

Edvard: But you must surely have discussed the matter with representatives of the Togolese government.

Issa: We did.

Edvard: Did they not indicate to you that they were concerned about the possibility of another attack?

Issa: The question was raised, yes.

Edvard: So Rose, I would consider that a yes to your question. That is five down and thirteen to go. Manuel, we come back round to you.

Manuel: Mr Hayatou, did Togo request a postponement of its group matches?

Issa: Yes.

Edvard: But that request was also rejected.

Issa: Yes. Postponing the matches would have affected the entire tournament schedule.

Edvard: Okay. That is six down and twelve to go. We are one third of the way through this activity. Jalafi, back over to you.

Jalafi: Mr Hayatou, I have here a copy of the regulations for the Africa Cup of Nations. Articles 78 and 80 have to do with a team that withdraws or forfeits. However, there is also Article 89, which reads as follows: “Reserves are made as to cases of force majeure and shall be decided by the Organising Committee.” So my question is this. Did the Africa Cup of Nations Organising Commission consider a terrorist attack a case of force majeure?

Issa: The commission did consider the matter.

Edvard: Ultimately deciding that an attack on the team bus is not a case of force majeure.

Issa: Correct.

Edvard: Appalling. Is that not the intent of a force majeure clause in the first place?

Issa: No, it is not. You see –

Edvard: Issa, I’m going to have to stop you there. Please do not answer any questions that are not specifically asked by our patrollers.

Issa: But if you did not want me to answer, why did you ask me a question?

Edvard: It was a rhetorical question.

Issa: Oh. Like, “Edvard, when did you stop beating your wife?”?

Edvard: No. That would be a nonsensical question, especially as I have no wife. Anyway, where are we? That was question number seven, right? Seven down, and eleven to go. Rose?

Rose: My next question is: Is that not the intent of a force majeure clause in the first place?

Issa: No, it is not. You see, force majeure refers to an event that is completely unforeseeable and unpreventable. There has been an insurgency in Cabinda, so such an event could not be considered unforeseeable.

Edvard: And yet it was still decided to play seven tournament matches in Cabinda.

Issa: The four matches that were not cancelled due to Togo’s forfeiture proceeded without incident.

Edvard: Again, little consolation for the victims of the attack. That takes us to eight down and ten to go. Back to you, Manuel.

Manuel: Mr Hayatou, was Togo’s request to postpone their matches rejected simply for financial reasons?

Issa: No. It was a logistical concern. Other teams’ flight and hotel schedules would have been impacted, and there simply was not enough time to make all those changes.

Edvard: All right. Well, that is nine down and nine to go. Our patrollers are halfway through their allotted questions, but they still have not discovered Issa Hayatou’s Schmilblick, which today is why the football team of Togo was suspended from the next two African Nations Cup tournaments. We have three more questions available for each patroller. Jalafi, let’s have your next question.

Jalafi: Yes. I have a followup question to Manuel’s last question. Would it have been possible to overcome the logistical problems that you cited given enough money?

Issa: I am not prepared to discuss such a hypothetical question.

Edvard: Okay. So that’s ten down and eight to go. Rose, back over to you.

Rose: Thank you. I would like to ask a more general question. Given this precedent, is it now the Confederation of African Football’s policy that a terrorist attack is no longer sufficient justification to reschedule or cancel matches under the force majeure clause?

Issa: No. Our policy has always been, and will continue to be, to evaluate each situation on a case by case basis.

Edvard: Interesting. Well, that is eleven down and seven to go. Back to you, Manuel. What will you ask?

Manuel: I will ask this. Mr Hayatou, were there specific circumstances in this case relating to Togo in particular?

Issa: In what way?

Manuel: When considering this case under the force majeure clause, did the Organising Commission take into account the identity of the team involved?

Issa: Yes.

Edvard: Really? So the commission might have reached a different conclusion had some other team been involved?

Issa: I’m sorry, I can’t speak to the mentality of the commission as a whole.

Edvard: Good. You’re learning to not answer questions from me. So that’s twelve down and six to go. Only two more questions for each patroller. Jalafi, your next question please.

Jalafi: Mr Hayatou, in light of the latest question, I would like to ask if Togo withdrew from any other recent tournaments, or was attacked within a time period of several weeks of any other recent tournaments.

Edvard: Well, that’s an interesting question. Does Togo have a history of withdrawing, or of being a target?

Issa: No, Togo has not withdrawn from other tournaments recently. Nor were they attacked in the runup to any other recent tournament.

Edvard: Okay. So that is thirteen down, five to go. Rose?

Rose: Was Togo on double secret probation, by any chance?

Issa: Yes, they were.

Edvard: What? Really?

[Pause.]

Issa: Oh no, you’re not going to get me again.

Edvard: I think you can answer the question “Really?”.

Issa: I would prefer not to.

Edvard: Fine. I’ll phrase it as a statement. Really.

Issa: Yes.

Edvard: And that isn’t your Schmilblick.

Issa: It is not.

Edvard: All right then. Fourteen down, four to go. Manuel, we return to you.

Manuel: Mr Hayatou, must we determine why Togo were placed on double secret probation to identify your Schmilblick?

Issa: Yes, that is correct.

Edvard: Okay. Well, that’s a ridiculously precise Schmilblick you’ve got. That is also fifteen down and three to go. Only one question for each of our patrollers. Jalafi, what will your last question be?

Jalafi: Mr Hayatou, were Togo placed on double secret probation for something that happened at a prior Africa Cup of Nations tournament, or one of its qualifiers?

Issa: No, they were not.

Edvard: Okay. Thank you, Jalafi. Sixteen down, two to go. Rose, your last question.

Rose: Thank you. Mr Hayatou, were Togo placed on double secret probation for something that happened at the 2006 World Cup?

Issa: Yes, they were.

Edvard: All right. Well, you’re getting closer. But that means it is seventeen down and just one question to go. Manuel, can you pull it out at the death?

Manuel: I hope so. Mr Hayatou, were Togo placed on double secret probation for the situation at the 2006 World Cup in which players threatened to strike unless they received the bonuses promised to them?

Edvard: Well, that’s an awfully good guess, and it could well win it for you and your fellow patrollers. For the trip to South Africa, Issa, were Togo placed on double secret probation because of the threatened player strike during the 2006 World Cup? Is that your Schmilblick?

Issa: No, it is not my Schmilblick.

Edvard: Really? All right. Well, that means, of course, that Issa, you’re our winner today. You’re heading for Brighton and the Burning the Clocks festival in December of this year. Congratulations to you, Issa. What was your Schmilblick?

Issa: Edvard, my Schmilblick was that Togo were placed on double secret probation because they lost all three matches at the 2006 World Cup.

Edvard: Is that right?

Issa: Yes, it is.

Edvard: So a team that finishes the group phase with no points is placed on double secret probation.

Issa: That is correct.

Edvard: Does that include the World Cup, or simply the African Nations Cup?

Issa: I am sorry, but I cannot publicly discuss FIFA policy relating to secret probations.

Edvard: But you can discuss CAF policy.

Issa: Yes. The name is unfortunate, as CAF secret probations are not really all that secret.

Edvard: Okay. Well, in any case, enjoy your trip to Brighton, and I hope you use that time to rethink CAF policy. But that’s all the time we have for this week. Congratulations once again to Issa Hayatou for defeating our patrollers, and thanks all of you for being here. This is Edvard van de Kamp, wishing you good tidings and better Schmilblicks. We’ll see you next time! Good night!

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