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The election of the new president of the Algerian Football Federation (FAF), Mr. Charaf-Eddine Amara (56), has dominated much of Algerian soccer news in recent days. Elected by an absolute majority on April 15 (75 votes for and 13 against) for the 2021-2025 Olympic term, the new head of the FAF has set himself a major challenge: to breathe new life and dimension into national soccer.
A CV that speaks volumes, a revealing career path
To occupy a position of great responsibility these days, you need to be qualified for it and have a certain intellectual baggage. And as far as CEA is concerned, he brings with him a rich educational background worthy of the name, having studied finance, international law and business law (Panthéon-Sorbonne-2). The native of Ouenza (Tébessa) also holds a master's degree in business administration from the Ecole des Etudes Supérieures de Lille, as well as an international diploma in management.
After working for the state-owned iron and phosphate company Ferphos in Annaba, where he was Director, he was appointed Deputy Director of the El Khroub site in Constantine for SNTA (Société Nationale des Tabacs et Matches), before rising to become CEO of the Madar Group (ex-SNTA), an Algerian-Emirati holding company. This position propelled him into the world of soccer, and opened the doors to a Ligue 1 professional club, CR Belouizdad, where he became Chairman.
A proponent of stability and a modernist approach to soccer management
As the bearer of a new program for the development and progression of Algerian soccer, without neglecting what has already been achieved, he is a true believer in stability. A reformist philosophy inspired by modernity and performance, which will enable him not only to win the confidence of all those involved in national soccer, but also to be able to count on their support as he begins his term of office with a bang.
In terms of soccer management and organization, the new FAF boss makes no secret of his ambitions, basing himself on an academic and scientific model. A rich program, centred on eleven essential points, namely: structural overhaul, soccer development, training, respect for the game, infrastructure development, partnerships, governance, international relations, sports medicine, marketing, communication and community life. What could be better than good governance to breathe new life into the Federation and Algerian soccer?
A major project lies ahead, with the amendment of the FAF statutes, training, the rehabilitation of national soccer, the SSPA/CSA disputes and professionalism already forming the core of this new challenge, with a view to winning popular confidence and being in harmony with public opinion.
Charaf-Eddine Amara: "I've come to bring together the national soccer family".
As was the case with his predecessors, Amara has not been spared criticism regarding the conditions surrounding his election at the Elective General Meeting held on April 15. According to the new president of Algeria's top footballing body, these judgements are unfounded, and he denies any supposed political interference in his appointment. "Political power does not interfere in soccer or in the management of sport, which is why it cannot be said or presumed that power interferes or has interfered in the choice of a candidate. As I've made clear, I'm not the candidate of anyone or any party. I am the candidate who has been encouraged by this assembly. There were discussions, yes, that happens in every democracy in the world. There were three candidates, and all three leaned towards the interests of Algerian soccer, joining their list to our cause. That's how we did it. I explained earlier how we got to this point," he told the Assembly in a speech before the ballot box, denying any pressure or influence from the Algerian government.
"My aim is to bring the Algerian soccer family together. I've come to serve national soccer and propel the Algerian round ball into the concert of the great nations of world soccer. My view of the Bureau Fédéral and its members will be based on experience and competence. It will also be based on other criteria, including national representation. We have clubs and leagues all over the country. I don't consider the previous BF to have failed; I'm not denying what he achieved. I've come to work on the continuity of what has already been built, and to improve on what needs to be improved, so there's no elimination when it comes to the composition of the Bureau Fédéral", he added of the criteria which led him to his choices for the composition of his Bureau Fédéral.
Meeting with Belmadi, when unity is strength
His first tête-à-tête with national coach Djamel Belmadi on April 28 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Doha was more than fruitful. As both men are well versed in the fundamentals and principles of management, it was on the same wavelength that they set about uniting around the same objective: to take Algerian soccer even further. Putting an end to rumours of a possible departure for Belmadi, who had begun a good relationship with the departing Zetchi, the Amara-Belmadi meeting took place in a very convivial atmosphere.
As mentioned on the FAF's official website, "During the meeting, the two men reviewed the objectives of the Federation and the national A team, and took stock of a number of topical issues, including preparations for the two 2022 World Cup qualifiers scheduled for early June against Djibouti and Burkina Faso". All of which is likely to bring the coach and his president even closer together, in anticipation of the upcoming challenges facing the Greens.
"I've met with national coach Djamel Belmadi, and he'll be in Algeria at the end of next month. Belmadi will begin preparations for the matches against Djibouti and Burkina Faso, and we will provide him with all the conditions he needs to continue reaping positive results. It's been a long meeting, and we've agreed to provide everything the national team needs to meet the challenges ahead," Amara told national radio station Chaîne I last Friday.
The presidents of FIFA and CAF already endorse his vision
The Arab Cup draw ceremony in Doha could not have come at a better time for CEA. The opportunity presented itself for the former president of Chabab de Belouizdad to unveil his enthusiasm and reformist vision, not without a certain pride, to a number of top soccer officials. These included FIFA President Gianni Infantino, the heads of FIFA and CAF, as well as several presidents of Arab federations, all of whom reiterated their willingness to support the Algerian Football Federation in all its development projects. Emphasizing the importance of Algeria, reigning African champions and a major footballing nation in FIFA's eyes, Infantino quickly fell under the spell of the Algerian footballing strongman.
Amara's visit to Qatar included a working meeting with Sheikh Hamed AL Khalifa Al Thani, President of the Qatar Football Association (QFA), on Thursday April 29, which resulted in an agreement to further strengthen the Memorandum of Cooperation between the two entities and their bilateral relations. Another stop on his first official outing abroad was an invitation to the headquarters of the Confederation of African Football in Cairo, with several items on the agenda for this important meeting, followed by a detour to the Aspetar sports medicine center.
"The first meeting was quick and the second long, and we discussed many important topics. We studied the point relating to the modification of the articles of association. I found an understanding of our position on the part of Infantino, who understood that we only delayed in order to adapt the laws, and there is no hostile position on our part towards FIFA", explained Amara on his meeting with Infantino, continuing on his meeting with the CAF President: "I met the CAF President, and we affirm that the relationship is good with Patrice Motsepe. We stressed the need for Algeria to be present in CAF bodies, and we pointed out to him that Algeria is not adequately represented in the various commissions and bodies of the African body. I asked directly and explicitly for Algeria's participation in all African soccer organizations and projects. We talked about other subjects, such as the national team and continental competitions, and we will reveal them in due course".
Amara marks his territory at the monthly statutory meeting of the Bureau Fédéral
On his return from Qatar, Mr. Amara made no bones about his trip to Doha and the federal body's priorities. In the presence of the new members of the BF, the presidents of the national leagues, the national technical director (DTN) and the federal doctor, Amara spoke of his desire, during his term of office, to take a major step forward in the development of national soccer. In addition to reporting on the work carried out in Doha, Amara took the opportunity to express his support for the normalization of relations between the FAF and other institutions. Several other points were discussed, including the national leagues, the clubs' financial crises, players' contracts, the health situation, the status of the LFP, and the distribution of tasks and missions between the various members of the Federal Bureau. The meeting served to consolidate the ties between those present, making a promising start in the interests of Algerian soccer and its near future.
Strengthening the structure of arbitration, one of its priorities
Forty-eight hours after consulting his BF members, the new President of the Algerian Football Federation turned his attention to refereeing, entrusting the matter to Dr Mohamed Bichari, Vice-President of the Federal Refereeing Commission (CFA), at a working meeting with the latter held on Sunday evening at FAF headquarters. Knowing that he would one day be confronted with the thorny and eternal issue of refereeing in its broadest sense, Amara temporized and began by appointing the members of the CFA. As soon as Amara requested him to do so, Bichari began his consultations to form the first nucleus that would accompany him in his mission, calling on Mohamed Benarous, national technical director of refereeing, as well as Farouk Houasnia, Safia Ayouni, Ali Bouali and Belkacem Boumaza, as members. Launching his mission at the start of the return leg of the Ligue 1 championship, Bichari declared: "I'm already on the bandwagon. I'll be in charge of appointing the referees for the first day of the return leg, and we'll be looking for the best right now.
It's time to get serious!
Since his return from Qatar, Amara has spared no effort in getting everyone on board with his strategy, and in taking all his pending projects seriously. Last Wednesday, CEA took part in the first forum on talent and infrastructure development in Africa, via videoconference, in the company of FAF General Secretary Mohamed SAAD. This working day continued on Thursday, this time in consultation with the General Secretaries, National Technical Directors (DTNs), Administration and Finance Directors, and Marketing Managers. On Thursday evening, it was the turn of the presidents of the Ligue 1 professional clubs to be invited to a dinner at the Sheraton Club des Pins hotel, west of Algiers. The meal was followed by a working meeting during which the FAF President listened to the club presidents' concerns and difficulties, and discussed a number of issues, including solutions and other resolutions to be taken to ensure the survival of professional soccer in Algeria.
Succeeding, since 1962, respectively : Maouche Mohand, Benaouniche Mustapha, Benadouda Amar, Abdennour Bekka, Lacarne Belaid, Kezzal Omar, Aissaoui Mouldi, Harraigue Rachid, Laib Mohamed, Diabi Mohamed, Kezzal Omar (second term), Raouraoua Mohamed, Haddadji Hamid, Raouraoua Mohamed (second term), and finally Kheireddine Zetchi, Charraf Eddine Amara launches his revolution for a new era in Algerian soccer.
Hamid Si Ahmed
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