The decision of the southern African countries to back Madagascar’s Ahmad in the race for the Confederation of African Football (Caf) presidency next month has put the Cosafa region at loggerheads with long-standing ruler Issa Hayatou.
Ahmad – the former government minister who uses just one name – hopes to deny the 70-year-old Hayatou taking his reign at the head of the African game into a fourth decade when the Caf elections are held in Addis Ababa‚ Ethiopia on March 16.
The weekend decision of Cosafa (the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations) to publicly back Ahmad is the first serious sign of dissent that Hayatou has faced since he became president in 1988.
With Fifa president Gianni Infantino backing Ahmad’s bid‚ the southern region is to become a further major battle ground over the next days.
Infantino has invited some 20 African football association presidents for a summit in Johannesburg next week on youth and women’s football‚ conveniently timed so that he might be able to bring some influence to bear on the election.
This is to be followed by a one-day meeting in Harare on February 24 called by the new Cosafa president Philip Chiyangwa‚ who is an enthusiastic supporter of Ahmad.
But Hayatou has told him he may not have the summit if he is inviting presidents from outside his region. If he does so he will sanction.
But Chiyangwa‚ whose poses for pictures with his Rolls Royce and is said to be one of the richest men in Zimbabwe‚ has rejected the threat‚ saying it is a party to celebrate his being voted Cosafa president last December and also to mark his birthday.
Safa president Danny Jordaan is also standing for elections in Addis Ababa‚ seeking both a seat on the Fifa Council as well as the executive committee of Caf.
-TMG Digital/TMG Sport