Caf presidential battle between Cameroon vs Madagascar.
In its 60-year history, the Confederation of African Football (Caf) has only ever had five presidents and the last time a new leader was appointed was in 1988.
Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa will host Thursday’s election and it is expected to herald a change, but long-time incumbent, Cameroon’s Issa Hayatou, is not giving up without a fight.
Cameroon’s Issa Hayatou, has been in charge for nearly three decades. Issa Hayatou beat Angola’s Armando Machado by 47-4 votes in 2000, and four years later he also beat Ismail Bhamjee of Botswana by 46-6 votes.
Issa Hayatou has often been re-elected unopposed. On the two occasions when he did face a challenge, he won with landslides amongst the electorate of presidents of Africa’s football associations.
Madagascar FA head Ahmad Ahmad, is planning on gate crashing the party as Hayatou seeks an eighth term on Thursday and He knows that victory this time around will not come nearly as easily taking on Madagascar FA head Ahmad Ahmad,.
Madagascar FA head Ahmad Ahmad is confident that he has been pledged more than 30 votes, which would comfortably take him over the line.
Ahmad Ahmad platform of administrative reform, financial transparency and a potential reorganisation of Caf competitions may be popular. But as the Malagasy freely admits what people say and what they actually do are often two very different things.
Yet should Ahmad shock many by winning, the roots of his success will be able to be traced back to February 2016 when the Fifa elections took place.
At that time, Caf publicly stated that it was supporting Fifa presidential candidate, and front-runner, Sheikh Salman of Bahrain and instructed all of Africa to do so as well.
So when Swiss-Italian Gianni Infantino was the surprise winner, it left Caf exposed.
List of the former presidents of the Confederation of African Football (Caf)
- Abdel Aziz Abdallah Salem (1957-1958)
- Abdel Aziz Moustafa (1958-1968)
- Abdel Halim Muhammad (1968-1972)
- Yidnekatchew Tessema (1972-1987)
- Abdel Halim Muhammad (1987-1988)
- Issa Hayatou (1988-present)
In a statement Ahmad said, “It’s one of the arguments that pushed me to go for this election.”
Who is Ahmad Ahmad?
Ahmad Ahmad is the head of the Madagascar FA.
Ahmad who is a politician back home after being both a football player and coach in his younger days, was prepared to put himself forward because the existing Caf rules state that only a member of the organisation’s Executive Committee can run for the presidency.
On the other hand, Hayatou, a former athlete himself who once held national Cameroonian sprinting records, is a political survivor would be standing in his way are not just 29 years of history but also the fact that
Cameroon’s Issa Hayatou has overseen a host of improvements to the African game but also suffered a fair share of controversies.
Also the Africa Cup of Nations has expanded from eight teams to 16, the number of African teams at the World Cup has increased from two to five, while club competitions have been remodelled and refinanced.
As a result, Caf’s own finances have also been greatly been boosted. And while on his watch, the first World Cup to be staged in Africa, took place in 2010 in South Africa. But, they have been several question marks against the veteran. Chief among them the reprimand by the International Olympic Committee in 2011 after an ethics committee probe into the acceptance of payments from a marketing firm.
Another three years in office?
But through it all, Hayatou has stayed in power, with a vice-like grip according to his critics, but that grip could well be loosening.
Nonetheless, he has looked remarkably relaxed as he strolls in the corridors in his hotel in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.
When I asked him for an interview on Tuesday, he accepted, but on the condition that it was done after Thursday’s election.
But will he be talking then as Caf president or a man who is moving on after more than four decades in sports administration?