(FILES) This file photo taken on February 13, 2017 shows Ahmad Ahmad, incumbent President of Malagasy Football Federation, posing during a photo session at his office in Antananarivo. Madagascan Ahmad Ahmad was elected on March 16, 2017 president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF). / AFP PHOTO / RIJASOLO
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said Friday the election of Ahmad Ahmad as Confederation of African Football chief was “a vote for change” after almost 30 years under Cameroonian Issa Hayatou.
Ahmad, head of Madagascar’s football federation, won the election in the Ethiopian capital this month by 34 votes to Hayatou’s 20.
“The African confederation needed to decide what it wanted for the future and Africans voted for change,” Infantino told journalists on the sidelines of a football congress organised at Estoril, near Lisbon.
“Africa is not an easy continent to manage in football terms but Africans have a great passion for the sport and a significant majority wanted a new leader.”
Infantino, a 47-year-old Swiss-Italian, was elected head of world football’s governing body last year in place of disgraced Sepp Blatter, who had reigned for 18 years.
Congratulating Ahmad on his election, former UEFA secretary general Infantino said that “FIFA are ready to work with CAF”, while adding that “progress was made during the mandates of Issa Hayatou”.
Ahmad, a 57-year-old, had a discreet playing and coaching career before he took the reins of the Madagascar football federation in 2003.
His rare and determined bid for “change” at the head of the CAF this year took many by surprise, and the incumbent was seen as the favourite.
After FIFA’s decision to extend the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams, Ahmad had said Africa wanted to obtain ten spots, a proposal still awaiting a response from FIFA.