By Akinwale Kasali
After over two decades of being at the helm of affairs of the Confederation of African Football, CAF, Cameroon born octogenarian, Issa Hayatou was defeated by Madagascan born, Ahmad Ahmad.
The Madagascan football chief Ahmad was elected president of the Confederation of African Football Thursday, ousting veteran leader Issa Hayatou after 29 years in office. Ahmad won the election in the Ethiopian capital by 34 votes to Hayatou’s 20, official results showed.
Ahmad had challenged Hayatou and promising change After a discreet playing and coaching career Ahmad Ahmad took the reins of the Madagascar football federation in 2003 and on Thursday challenges long-serving Issa Hayatou for the African Football Confederation (CAF) presidency.
Favourite Hayatou, who has been in charge for 29 years, and Ahmad go head to head in Addis Ababa seeking a four-year term as African football boss. With Eritrea disqualified for not entering any recent CAF competitions, the other 53 CAF member states are entitled to vote and a simple majority is needed to win. Hayatou, who is also the senior vice-president of global football body FIFA, offers continuity and experience while Ahmad favours change.
The emergence of Ahmad as the standard bearer of those seeking change took many involved in African football by surprise. Part of the Muslim minority in a small village in northwestern Madagascar, he has kept a low profile since taking charge of the football federation in his country. “He is a man who speaks little during CAF executive committee meetings,” said a source close to the Cairo-based organisation.
Ahmad officially has the support of the 14 member countries of the southern African confederation (COSAFA), of which Madagascar is part. CAF comprises 54 member countries and Hayatou, first elected in 1988, is seeking an eighth consecutive term. He was challenged in 2000 and 2004 and inflicted humiliating defeats on Armando Machado of Angola and Ismael Bhamjee of Botswana.
“Hayatou tires a lot of people, but overall the African federations will support him again,” said a source close to FIFA. Ahmad brushes aside the argument that the president of CAF cannot come from a weak football nation like Madagascar, who are ranked 39th of 54 African national teams. “This is an argument to try and defeat me, but look at the presidents of the Asian and North-Central American confederations — they are from Bahrain and Canada.”
Following Hayatou’s defeat, soccer enthusiasts in the continent have aired their voice on this latest development.
For Chinedu Nwogo, he said that he his one of the happiest person on earth to Issa Hayatou leave office, he thinks caf is his bedroom now he must be ready to face numerous charges of corruption perpetuated during his time, kudos Mr Pinnick Amaju for all your laudable support for Ahmad now its time to fix our soccer, i know Fifa president Gianni Infantino will be well please with this outcome as he build a new less corrupt free global Fifa.
Kevin Oguttu, a Kenyan said that Why is it our present leaders do not learn from past events, be it politics, sports etc? Hayatou should have learnt something from former FIFA president. He would have left the office with a lot of dignity rather than being shamelessly bundled out office by that unknwon islander from Madagascar. In politics, we saw Saddam being dug out of tunnel. Muamar Gadaffi of Libya. Sese- seko of Zaire, Idi Amin of Uganda.& recently Yahaya Jammeh of Gambia. When will our leaders learn to leave office honourably instead of waiting to be unceremoniously removed? Wuod kipapi, kenya.
Towobola Damilola, a sport analyst has also praised the choice of Ahmad as the new CAF President, saying it’s a new dawn for african football.