Windhoek-At long last, there is a new sheriff at the Confederation of African Football (CAF) headquarters in Cairo, Egypt.
Sole challenger, Madagascar’s football chief Ahmad pulled off a stunning upset yesterday when he toppled the long serving CAF president, Issa Hayatou, from the pedestal by clinching an unlikely landslide victory of 30 votes in his favour against his opponent’s 20 at Africa’s governing football body’s presidential elective congress in Ethiopia yesterday.
Ahmad, 57, a former government minister who goes by just a single name garnished 34 of the 54 votes that went into the poll for the CAF presidency and in the process brought on a surprise halt to the 29-year tenure of the 70-year-old Cameroonian. The ageing Hayatou has been at the helm of CAF for three solid decades and many felt the Cameroonian had long overstayed his welcome.
Namibia Football Association president Frans Mbidi has publicly backed Ahmad, a fellow COSAFA colleague ahead of the election, citing a need for change.
Local football pundits welcomed Ahmad’s triumph in the poll as not only a commendable victory for the southern African region, but as a welcome, much-needed and long overdue blessing for the overall progress of African football.
“He, (Hayatou) has done very little to comprehensively advocate the plight of football on the African continent. CAF club competitions are poorly marketed, to the extent that many teams are not taking Africa’s plum competition seriously,” charged a local football official.
The dominant view is that CAF has been unable to adequately fund its affiliates, as opposed to other associations in global football. CAF boasts FIFA’s largest representation for a continent, with 55 registered members.
Eritrea was ineligible to cast its vote, as the tiny nation torn by civil wars has failed to enter her football teams in CAF competitions.