By Sports Reporter
NAMIBIA Football Association (NFA) president, Frans Mbidi, has joined the fray of those African football leaders who seem to have had enough of African football strongman, Issa Hayatou, who has been president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) since 1988.
Football presidents from the southern African region, grouped under COSAFA, have unanimously agreed to rather back Madagascar Football Association president Ahmad Ahmad to depose Hayatou.
As if knowing that the 14 associations in COSAFA will not do anything against the might of north, east and west Africa on who Hayatou has relied to remain in power, the president of COSAFA, Phillip Chiyangwa, has invited presidents from other football confederations in Africa to a meeting under the guise of celebrating his election to the southern regional football body and also his birthday.
Part of the letter, sent to football presidents and other respected personalities, read: “The FIFA President — President Infantino will grace the occasion as the Guest of Honour. It is my hope that you will find time in your busy schedule to attend to this very important and historic celebration.”
However, it has been widely speculated that the meeting is nothing else than an opportunity for Chiyangwa to convince football presidents to vote for Ahmad in the CAF presidential elections.
However, Hayatou has not taken this invitation by Chiyangwa lightly and has issued a stern warning through the continental body’s secretary general. Part of the letter to Chiyangwa reads: “The CAF leadership has been informed that a meeting is convened by yourself in your capacity as COSAFA chairman, in Harare Zimbabwe on 24th January, right after the FIFA executive Summit planned in Johannesburg on 21st and 23rd January 2017.
“Such a meeting would not include only presidents of member associations of COSAFA but also presidents of many member associations outside the zonal union of COSAFA. The CAF leadership would like to remind you that you do not have the authority to convene such a meeting without CAF knowledge nor without its required approval.”
In his swift retort to CAF, Chiyangwa said: “I was taken aback, to say the least, by the tone of your letter and the clear insinuation that such a gathering between presidents of member associations on the African continent would be considered, outrightly, as an attempt to destabilise CAF”.
If it is indeed true that FIFA president Infantino will also be in Zimbabwe for Chiyangwa’s party, then Hayatou and those backing him have reason to be worried as it is widely known that Infantino prefers someone other than Hayatou at the helm of CAF.
In his letter, Chiyangwa reminded Hayatou CAF statutes “promote friendly relations between National Associations, zonal unions, clubs, officials and players, as well as encourage freedom of Association of member associations and zonal unions for the development and growth of the game on our continent”.
The public spat between Chiyangwa and Hayatou is not likely to dissipate any time soon but will likely go until the CAF congress in Ethiopia on March 16 2017. Analysts predict Hayatou may take drastic action to prevent Ahmad Ahmad from wrestling the presidency from him. In fact, Hayatou had already fired the first salvo a month ago, when he decided to cancel Madagascar’s right to host the CAF Under-17 championships without any reason.
While it appears that the entire COSAFA membership has put their weight behind the Madagascan, there are doubts that South Africa and Mauritius will actually cast their votes for Ahmad. South African Football Association president, Danny Jordaan, lost out on a COSAFA executive position while his Mauritian counterpart, already an executive member of CAF, also declined to seek re-election at the COSAFA congress two months ago. Both of them were reported to have become very close to Hayatou and it remains to be seen whether COSAFA will indeed be a united force at the CAF congress.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015