LONDON: African sport and French and Spanish football have lost three further outstanding personalities in the last days with the deaths of Jean-Claude Ganga, Pape Diouf and Gregorio Benito.
Ganga was nicknamed the “father of African sport” in the post-colonial era. The former Sports Minister of Congo-Brazzaville and president of the African Olympic Committee was 86.
He was a moving force behind the creation of African Games, staged initially ‘at home’ in 1965, and eventually rose to become a member of the International Olympic Committee.
In 1999, Ganga was one of six IOC members expelled after being caught up in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games bidding scandal.
Pape Diouf . . .
Mababa ‘Pape’ Diouf, a victim of coronavirus at 68 in Dakar, had been the first black president of a major European football club, Marseille.
Born in Chad, his family moved back home to Senegal when he was a child and he eventually emigrated to France at 17.
Diouf gradiated in social science while starting work as a freelance journalist with La Marseillaise. Soon he was covering the local club which led him on to become an agent. Clients would include Marcel Desailly, Basile Boli, William Gallas, Samir Nasri, and Didier Drogba.
In 2005 Diouf became president of Marseille. In his four years at the helm they were French champions once and rnners-up twice as well as runners-up twice in the cup.
Gregorio Benito . . .
Gregorio ‘Goyo’ Benito, who has died aged 73, played 420 games at centre back for Real Madrid between 1969 and 1982.
Born in Puente del Arzobispo, Toledo, he was a national javelin champion at schools level before joining the Madrid football youth system at 16. He turned professional on August 4, 1969, and made his senior debut less than three months later against Real Sociedad in San Sebastián.
Benito, who went on to win six Spanish league titles and five cups, was later a high-profile supporter of Florentino Pérez when the latter first stood for the club presidency in 1982.
He was capped 22 times by Spain between 1971 and 1978.