The re-election bid of incumbent President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Issa Hayatou, seems to be heading for failure if claims in some quarters are anything to go by.
Hayatou, 70, was elected CAF President in March 1988, and is contesting for a record eighth term. He had been challenged for the presidency only twice, with both rivals coming from southern Africa, but Hayatou survived, defeating Armando Machado of Angola and Ismael Bhamjee of Botswana.
However, a new challenger, Ahmad Ahmad, who is also from the southern African region, seems to be posing what observers believe a greater threat to Hayatou this time. The Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) unanimously endorsed Ahmad, who is Madagascar’s FA boss, in Johannesburg two days ago.
The Guardian learnt yesterday that some die-hard supporters of Hayatou had ‘cross carpeted’ to Ahmad’s camp within 48 hours, thereby creating panic in the Camerounian’s camp.
According to a source, the block endorsement of Ahmad by COSAFA region in Johannesburg, coupled with the backing of 14 member states under the umbrella of Young FA bosses from across Africa, who are working as a group to wrestle power from Hayatou is doing the magic for the Madagascan.
Ahmad boasted during the week that: “If people want change, there is no other choice. Only I can dare (to challenge Hayatou).”
“Many people are clamouring for Ahmad because they want to break with Hayatou’s long reign, which is authoritarian,” the source told The Guardian in a telephone chat yesterday. “Ahmad has made it clear that his programme is to reform the administration of CAF and to avoid the involvement of politics in football. Some of Hayatou’s supporters have come to realize that Ahmad will change the face of Africa’s football if he wins.”