CAF: Full article on how Ahmad succeeded Hayatou as new football chief

0
12
views
Madagascan Ahmad Ahmad has been elected president of the Confederation of African Football

Madagascan Ahmad Ahmad was elected president of the Confederation of African Football Thursday, ousting veteran leader Issa Hayatou after 29 years in office to usher in a “new dawn” for the sport on the continent.

Ahmad, head of Madagascar’s football federation, won the election in the Ethiopian capital by 34 votes to Hayatou’s 20, official results showed.

Delegates cheered and pumped their fists in the plenary hall after the announcement of the result which heralded the departure of the last of the old generation of leaders in world football.

“What made me very proud today, proud and at the same time happy, is the victory of democracy in Africa … African football showed today that we respect democracy,” Ahmad told a press conference.

Ahmad, a 57-year-old father of two, had a discreet playing and coaching career before he took the reins of the Madagascar football federation in 2003.

His rare and determined bid for “change” at the head of the CAF this year took many by surprise, and the incumbent was seen as the favourite.

He earlier said his programme was the “reform of the administration of CAF to avoid the involvement of politics in the organisation.”

Cameroonian Hayatou headed CAF since 1988 and is a senior vice president of FIFA. He was credited with increasing the number of African teams at the World Cup and bringing in extra finance for the continent’s competitions.

“His excellency Issa Hayatou has done a lot for African football (but) it is time for him to step back,” said George Afriyie, vice president of the Ghana Football Association.

Hayatou was led from the auditorium by aides who brushed off requests for comment from journalists while Ahmad was picked up and carried by cheering supporters.

“Africa has made an emphatic decision that we are ready for change,” said Liberian Football Association President Musa Bility.

Seyi Akinwunmi, vice president of the Nigeria Football Federation, called Hayatou a “colossus who has bestrode African football for decades” before adding: “It’s a new dawn, all should be happy.

“We’re Africans and Africans never forget their elders. An elder has been defeated today, but he’s still an elder.

“The world has moved on, we really need energy. And the truth is Issa Hayatou is almost 70. There’s only so much really that he can do.

“The world, technologically and in terms of the way you see things, has changed. Speaking with Ahmad, I found that he understood those things.”

– Fresh ideas –

Hayatou’s reign at the head of CAF was often controversial.

He was accused by Britain’s The Sunday Times of receiving $1.5 million to vote for Qatar when it was awarded the 2022 World Cup seven years ago.

In 2011, Hayatou was reprimanded by the International Olympic Committee over money he received from the scandal-tainted sports marketing company ISL in 1995.

He has always insisted the money went to CAF and has always strongly denied any wrongdoing.

JUST INCASE YOU MISS!  Nigeria's Saraki congratulates new CAF President, Ahmad Ahmad

On the eve of the vote, it was announced that Hayatou and CAF secretary-general Hicham El-Amrani could face criminal charges in Egypt over deals secured for African football marketing and media rights between 2008 and 2028.

Ahmad has also been implicated in the 2022 World Cup bribe-taking. The Sunday Times said he received between $30,000 and $100,000 for his vote. The Madagascar soccer chief has called the allegations unfounded.

Before the vote Hayatou called for delegates to vote for “unity”.

Laying out some of the priorities for CAF in the future, he mentioned lobbying for 10 places for African nations in the enlarged World Cup field.

He also called for the African Nations Cup to be maintained at the beginning of the year, when the climate is cooler, amid calls for it to be rescheduled to accommodate European clubs who don’t want to lose their African players during their season.

Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar reacts after being elected the new president of the Confederation of African Football in Addis Ababa on March 16, 2017

– African football chief Hayatou faces challenger in bid for 8th term –

Issa Hayatou, the last of the old generation leaders in world football, faces a rare and determined challenge when he bids for an eighth term as head of the Confederation of African Football in Thursday’s election.

Ahmad Ahmad, head of the Madagascar Football Association, has picked up key votes with his calls for “change” against the 70-year-old Hayatou.

The Cameroonian official remains favourite but many African federations refused to say who they would back when asked by AFP.

“Issa has never faced a challenge like this and he has had to call in some favours,” one CAF executive member said ahead of the vote at a congress in Addis Ababa.

Hayatou has headed CAF since 1988 and is a senior vice president of FIFA. He has been credited with increasing the number of African teams at the World Cup and bringing in extra finance for the continent’s competitions.

But he has also faced controversy, accused by a British newspaper of receiving $1.5 million to vote for Qatar when it was awarded the 2022 World Cup seven years ago.

In 2011, Hayatou was reprimanded by the International Olympic Committee over money he received from the scandal-tainted sports marketing company ISL in 1995.

He has always insisted the money went to CAF and has always strongly denied any wrongdoing. “No-one has been able to hurt him despite all the rumours of corruption,” a former top member of the FIFA world body management said.

On the eve of the vote, it was announced that Hayatou and CAF secretary-general Hicham El-Amrani could face criminal charges in Egypt over deals secured for African football marketing and media rights between 2008 and 2028.

– Uncertain votes –

Ahmad, 57, has also been implicated in the 2022 World Cup bribe-taking. The Sunday Times said he received between $30,000 and $100,000 for his vote. The Madagascar soccer chief has called the allegations unfounded.

JUST INCASE YOU MISS!  Nigeria's Saraki congratulates new CAF President, Ahmad Ahmad

“If people want change there is no other choice. Only I can dare (to challenge Hayatou),” Ahmad told AFP during a recent interview at the Malagasy Football Federation offices in Antananarivo.

“My programme is the reform of the administration of CAF to avoid the involvement of politics in the organisation,” he added.

Ahmad is already a member of the CAF executive and he has been promised the support of the 14 member Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA).

Zimbabwe Football Association chief, Philip Chiyangwa, who is also COSAFA leader, said: “We have all endorsed Ahmad Ahmad. We need new ideas.”

In the group, South Africa has not publicly committed to vote for Ahmad.

But an official from the Football Association of Malawi, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP: “The thinking is that Hayatou has overstayed and has run out of ideas. Africa needs fresh minds to develop football.”

In a sign of the furious lobbying going on, the influential vote of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and a football powerhouse, appeared in doubt. Nigerian Football Federation president Amaju Pinnick had wanted to vote for Ahmad, but the government has called for a vote for Hayatou.

The 12-member Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) which includes Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, South Sudan, Djibouti, and Somalia, voted a resolution in February to back Hayatou.

But Kenya Football Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa said each federation would make their own decision in the election.

An Egyptian Football Federation source told AFP that the country will vote for Ahmad. The source said “a small coalition” including Morocco, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Egypt will support Ahmad. But no official has estimated how many votes Ahmad will get and most say Hayatou remains favourite to win.

FIFA leader Gianni Infantino visited Africa last month and met with Chiyangwa who is seen as one of the leaders of the anti-Hayatou camp.

Infantino has embarked on reforms of the world body, seeking to redeem its image after the scandals that forced out past president Sepp Blatter and his one-time ally Michel Platini. While many suspect he favours Ahmad, Infantino has not said publicly who he supports in the election battle.

Comments

comments

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here