Relax! It wasn’t Robert Mugabe like you probably must have been thinking, but it is no less a catch. Issa Hayatou, the head of the Confederation of African Football, CAF, who has been at the helms of affair of African football for 29 years and definitely before all of those we refer to as ‘indomie generation’ in this part of the world were born, has been removed.
The Cameroonian, who is one of the world’s longest serving leaders – and in the same much maligned club which the likes of Robert Mugabe and Arsene Wenger belongs – was defeated by Ahmad, chief of Madagascar’s football association (FA) in a continent-wide election.
Ahmad claimed 34 of the 54 votes cast by national FA chiefs in elections held in Addis Ababa yesterday (Marrch 16). Ahmad, 57, who has led Madagascar’s FA since 2003 is promising reforms in CAF, including increased transparency and a new code of ethics for football officials on the continent.
Not suprisingly, Hayatou’s defeat has been met with disbelief across the continent and is seen by some as having parallels with Africa’s voters beginning to turn their backs on decades-long rule by autocratic presidents and so-called “strongmen”.
Before now, Hayatou, 70, had only faced a challenge to his presidency twice in 29 years and won comfortably on both occasions. In power since 1988, Hayatou has amassed immense political influence in global soccer including occupying positions in FIFA’s leading committees (positions which he’ll now vacate) and briefly taken charge of FIFA last year amid a leadership upheaval at the global soccer body.
While his tenure had major high points including Africa hosting the FIFA World Cup for the first time ever in South Africa 2010 and growing its representation at the competition, Hayatou has also been rocked by several allegations of corruption and shady dealings. In a recent scandal, now the subject of a suit in Egyptian courts, Hayatou has been accused of abusing power to sell broadcasting rights of CAF competitions.
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