The politicking of the past months by ambitious football bureaucrats aiming for posts in Africa’s soccer ruling body, Confederation of African Football (CAF), has ended with many welcoming a fresh wind of change within the football fraternity on the continent.
It was Madagascar’s football chief, Ahmad Ahmad who denied Cameroon’s Issa Hayatou an eighth term in office. Hayatou who has been in office for the past 29 years was dethroned by Ahmad in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, by 34 votes to 20 yesterday, ousting the veteran leader.
“When you try to do something, you mean that you can do it. If I can’t do it, I never stand. This is sweet victory. When you work hard for years and months and you succeed, that is great,’’ Ahmad told BBC Sport.
The permutations were that Hayatou had strongholds and was expected to win the majority of the votes in Zones 1, 4 and 5 while splitting the votes in Zones 2, 3 and 6. This was not the case as the federation chiefs decided otherwise.
In the other polls, the Namibia soccer sheriff Frans Mbidi also failed to get the numbers on his side for a position on the CAF Executive Committee for the 2017-2021 cycle Southern Zone. Mbidi was elbowed out by Danny Jordaan of South Africa and Angola’s Rui Eduardo Da Costa after Suketu Patel of Seychelles chickened out before poll day.
Ahmad’s victory as new CAF president has been welcomed at home, as Namibia looks forward to change. Namibia Football Association ex-President John Muinjo said it was about time for change and that the results mean a lot for Namibia. “I went through hell fighting CAF during my tenure, especially with the Francophone and Anglophone issue.” “Surely, the wind of change has come and this means a lot so we must just support this guy,” added Muinjo. Muinjo is particularly interested in seeing change in the development of football. His key interest areas is for Ahmad to bring unity in football and the development of women football on the continent. The veteran would also like to see more training for referees, football administrators and all those in the fraternity. He did not leave out the need to increase the reduced FIFA development offices on the continent that are currently only two. As it currently stands, CAF rules state that only a member of the Executive Committee can vie for the presidency – a rule that Muinjo would like to see the body show a red card.
“But to do things right, we must not have too many expectations of him. We must give him time and support. I am sure with time he will pronounce himself on the changes he wants to bring to the game of football,” said Muinjo. Football analyst Isack Hamata welcomed the victory and remains optimistic in anticipation of what Ahmad may bring. He says it is obvious that people would like to see change but a new person in the office does not translate to guaranteed good change. However, Hamata looks forward to seeing Ahmad put an end to discrimination against Southern African teams. “I welcome the elections but now Ahmad must work for us. What is guaranteed is that if he does not change things, he must forget about a second term,” said Hamata. But through it all, Hayatou’s say in office, which has been referred to a vice-grip like, has been loosened and the continent is starting a new page to be authored by Ahmad.