JOHANNESBURG - Africa's football boss on Monday expressed regret at the retirement of Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor from international football but refused to discuss his controversial tournament ban on the player's team.
Adebayor earlier this month announced he would quit the national team, saying he was haunted by the attack on the squad bus at the African Nations Cup in Angola in January, in which an assistant coach and press officer were killed.
Togo, shattered by the attack, withdrew from the competition and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) banned them from the next two tournaments as well as fining them $50,000, causing outrage in that country and elsewhere.
Adebayor, who returned to play for Manchester City after the attack, described the punishment as "monstrous" and called for CAF President Issa Hayatou to resign.
Hayatou refused to discuss the ban at a news conference on Monday, saying he had come to South Africa to receive an honour from the government and not to discuss the events in Angola.
"Everything has been said already, everything has been done," he said.
Asked about Adebayor, Hayatou said: "If he refuses to play in the national team, it is a loss but it is his own decision. It is unfortunate...it is a loss for Africa but one cannot oblige him to do what he does not want."
At a news conference in which he seemed to dodge more questions than he answered, Hayatou also refused to say whether he had supported Morocco over South Africa in votes for the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
Hayatou, CAF boss since 1988, is in South Africa to receive a national decoration on Tuesday for bringing the World Cup to Africa for the first time - which might be ironic if he had indeed voted for Morocco.
"The vote is secret. You don't know who I voted for and I don't think you need to speculate," he told a Ghanaian journalist. "You are not as old as my son, you cannot shoot at me like this."
It was left to Danny Jordaan, chief executive of the local organising committee, to give a more substantive answer to questions, launching into an eloquent rejection of critics who say South Africa could not afford to stage a World Cup.
"This argument that while there is misery, well let all of the people be miserable cannot be the right argument. We are entitled to orchestras, to sporting events, to church gatherings, to economic forums - and not just this country, but the whole continent," Jordaan said.
"Football is a giver of hope and life and we must never argue that we must deny Africans the fundamental pleasure and joy that football generates," he said, adding that football was "the one expression where Africa can compete equally with anyone in the world."comments