No Euro-favouritism behind CAF reforms, says Kwesi Nyantakyi
CAF Vice President Kwesi Nyantakyi has accused critics of the continental football governing body's recent reforms of being 'narrow' in their analysis, and has refuted suggestions that the confederation has pandered to Europe.
The Ghana Football Association boss, who also heads CAF's reforms committee, told KweséESPN that the African football body has simply acted in the interest of the continental game.
"Where is the dictation?" Nyantakyi began. "Europe is the most influential football continent in the world because they have the most leagues and employ players from all around the world.
They have a point of view to express, but it is not binding on us.
"We have not followed Europe sheepishly," he continued. "The interest of Africa is the driving motivation behind these changes."
Uganda coach Micho Sredojevic argued that CAF have bowed to European pressure in rescheduling the Nations Cup, while Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has praised the confederation's decision.
Nyantakyi added that the old schedule for the Nations Cup was simply unsustainable based on the experience and feedback of the players.
"I think those of us from countries like Ghana [and] Nigeria will agree that this is the best for us because many times in the past we have lost players because they are worried about spending a long time away.
"Teams like Manchester United have been reluctant to sign African players in the past because [Sir Alex] Ferguson knew he would lose them at some stage during the season.
"This time, the European clubs know that they will have access to their players throughout the season," he continued. "It is a big advantage for Africa because it will enhance the commercial benefits for the players.
"It is a win-win for both of us.
"This narrow argument that it will favour Europe is neither here nor there," Nyantakyi added. "That argument has been around for a long time and we have seen clearly from the merits and demerits that this is the best way Africa should go in terms of revenue, interest, patronage and maximisation of the commercial value of the competition."
While there the shift from a January schedule has been largely welcomed, there are concerns that the expansion from 16 to 24 teams and a shift to a June-July programme will prevent too many nations from hosting the competition.
Nyantakyi certainly has no concerns about the potential limitations for Africa's potential hosts.
"Hosting a competition is based on choice", he concluded. "There are conditions that have to be fulfilled.
"If it is just half the countries that can host, so be it, because even in Europe, how many of the countries have been able to host the European championships?
"How many countries in the world have hosted the World Cup before? Has that diminished its status as a World Cup? No, in Africa only one country has hosted the competition.
"In as much as we want to ensure many countries to host the Nations Cup, we must also be mindful of the required standards for stadiums, hotels, training pitches and others."