Sports Features of Saturday, 18 March 2017
Source: Rahman Osman
By Rahman Osman
On Thursday, 16th March 2017, history was made when Hayatou lost the CAF Presidency to Ahmad Ahmad an unknown name in the circus of African football.
The gentle yet cunning man; again proved that everything is possible, and with the right knots and strings pulled, one can attain unprecedented success.
The new CAF President, born and raised in Madagascar is a football person. He had a quiet footballing career and an even muter coaching career. He never quite made it to a big club or top tier level as a player or a coach.
He moved on to the administration level and became the Chairman/President of the Malagasy Football Association. Ahmad surprised the football world when he announced his intention of challenging Hayatou, a man who had reigned in that top job for nearly three decades, specifically Twenty-Nine years (29).
The unsung hero of Hayatou’s down fall: Philip Chiyangwa:
Much credit must be given to Phillip Chiyangwa, Campaign Manager of Ahmad Ahmad, and head of Zimbabwe’s FA. He was very instrumental in getting members of Cosafa to back Ahmad. That was the turning point.
Secondly, he convinced new FIFA President Gianni Infantino to strategically visit Accra and other influential football cities in Africa to sell out the need to oust Hayatou this time around.
That was certainly music in Infantino’s ears because he is also on a campaign to break all Blatters strong hold. Infantino knows how powerful Hayatou is; and he will only be able to carry out his proposed projects if a big bloc like Africa is behind him.
The visit to Accra particularly was seen by insiders as a move to shore up the plan to remove Hayatou from office despite several denials by Infantino that he was not meddling with CAF politics, his presence in Accra showed that he was key in the plans.
Issa Hayatou sensed his ending with the visit of Infantino and his speech some few hours before the elections confirmed he knew there were superior forces working to bring a long era of leadership to an end. But there was little he could do about it.
Below is the statement he delivered at the congress:
“African Football decision must be left for Africans “this was what Hayatou said when he delivered a speech few minutes to the voting at the CAF congress.
Infantino was present at the birthday celebration of Phillip Chiyangwa, where he met many African FA heads who were in support of Ahmad Ahmad mainly because Philip Chiyangwa had sold out the idea of the need for a change now.
Issa Hayatou’s biggest mistake:
Hayatou’s decision to ditch Kwesi Nyantakyi and back Tanzania’s Leodegar Tenga in the FIFA Council looked to have backfired, and despite a last minute attempt to correct the mistake, it was too little too late.
Several anti-Hayatou outspoken FA leaders like Nigeria’s Amaju Pinnick, Musa Bility and Isha Johansen all paid unannounced visits to Ghana’s FA President Kwesi Nyantakyi who had jumped camp from Hayatou to Ahmad Ahmad after finding out that Hayatou was throwing his weight behind Leodegar Tenga.
DR Congo FA boss, Constant Omari, a former Hayatou henchman, who was booted out for his support for Infantino, was also spotted in Accra.
This shows that they were central to the campaign and strategy to oust Hayatou and the form and guide of it was nailed when some of them departed straight from Accra to Ethiopia for the election.
The plan looks to have worked to perfection as all the people in the Accra group won their elections with most thoroughly thrashing Hayatou’s loyalists including Ahmad’s famous victory over the big man.
Issa Hayatou not entirely the devil he has been made:
Hayatou though vilified by many on the continent will leave office with some achievements:
Mainly he was able to get more World Cup slot for Africa; it was in his time that the slots increased from 2 to 5.
South Africa hosted the World Cup under his reign, the first time an African country had been given the opportunity. The AFCON was expanded to 16 countries.
His lowest point was when he was reprimanded by the International Olympic Committee for taking of money unethically from a marketing firm. That was an all-time low and broke his credibility beyond repair.
Ahmad Ahmad’s Change:
“I am the only one who could dare present a candidacy for the change. And I am vying to bring this change.”
These were the words of Ahmad before the election. We live to see the change he brings to African Football.
Previous CAF Presidents:
The story of African football’s leadership started with Egyptian Abdel Aziz Abdallah Salem in the early 70’s.
His tenure though very beautiful lasted just a year. He was in office from 1957-1958.
Then came tough-talking Abdel Aziz Moustafa, also from Egypt. He will forever be remembered for kick-starting the long tenure in office, he lasted a decade, from 1958-1968.
Abdel Halim Muhammad from Sudan followed, and was in office from 1968-1972, and was succeeded by Yidnekatchew Tessema in 1972-1987 from Ethiopia.
Tessema’s 15-year tenure was the longest ever the Confederation of African football had witnessed at that time.
Abdel Halim Muhammad (Sudan) took charge from 1987-1988 before the grand arrival of Issa Hayatou (Cameroon) the longest serving CAF President of 29 years.