Hayatou's rule threatened in Africa football vote

Hayatou's rule threatened in Africa football vote
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Published March 15th, 2017 - 18:31 GMT via SyndiGate.info

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So far, Issa Hayatou has survived every scandal. For 29 years, the Cameroonian has been leading African football. But he has a dogged challenger as he seeks an eighth term.
So far, Issa Hayatou has survived every scandal. For 29 years, the Cameroonian has been leading African football. But he has a dogged challenger as he seeks an eighth term.

When Issa Hayatou took over African football, Joseph Blatter was still just FIFA general secretary and Gianni Infantino was only 17-years-old.

For 29 years, the Cameroonian has led the Confederation of African Football. He has survived every scandal and is now one of the last relics of the Blatter era following the grubby exit of the former FIFA president and the ascension of reformer Infantino.

At 70, the senior vice president of FIFA is aiming for an eighth term as CAF chief - with a vote at the organization's congress in Addis Ababa on Thursday. But this time is different. This time he has a meaningful challenger - Ahmad Ahmad from Madagascar.

There is also rebellion in the ranks.

Zimbabwe's Phillip Chiyangwa, the head of the southern African football union and the self-proclaimed campaign manager of Ahmad, has accused CAF executive committee members who support Hayatou of being "cowards".

CAF has launched a disciplinary case against Chiyangwa because of his outbursts.

FIFA president Infantino has declared himself a neutral in the election campaign but has been spotted as a guest at Chiyangwa's birthday party in Harare.

Chiyangwa recently stated that Ahmad had collected the support of 35 of 54 African associations. It is impossible to verify but it seems certain Hayatou faces a battle this time having either been elected unopposed previously or having come up against also rans.

Hayatou has repeatedly had to fight off corruption allegations in his long career and the latest episode could also hurt his chances of re-election.

CAF is based in Cairo and the Egyptian competition authority is probing the organization over a media rights package for African football tournaments.

CAF has said that a contract extension with French company Lagardere Sports is lawful.

Despite his longevity, some of the mud has stuck. In 2011, Hayatou was reprimanded by the International Olympic Committee over kickbacks from a now defunct sports marketing company.

He challenged Blatter once to become FIFA president but lost in the 2002 election. He did eventually succeed Blatter in a way, taking over as acting FIFA head when Blatter's reign collapsed in yet another corruption affair in 2015.

But Hayatou knew that another bid to become the permanent FIFA boss would not prevail because of his past and because of ill-health.

He underwent a kidney transplant two years ago after suffering from renal problems for several years.

Slightly bent, the former track and field athlete looked increasingly frail during January and February's African Nations Cup - another potential reason why Ahmad appears to have a chance of toppling him.

Not that Hayatou has lost any of his bravado.

"If I believed I was going to lose this election, I would not have entered," he said this week.

© 2017 dpa GmbH

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