Tokyo flies SOLO

De­fi­ant Sexwale re­fuses to throw in the towel de­spite CAF not back­ing him for Fifa pres­i­dency

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

Tokyo Sexwale’s bid for the Fifa pres­i­dency is not over, de­spite his be­ing snubbed by the Con­fed­er­a­tion of African Foot­ball (CAF) on Fri­day. And the politi­cian-turned-busi­ness­man be­lieves he still has a chance to as­cend to the top po­si­tion in global foot­ball. On Fri­day, CAF posted on its web­site that Sexwale had “with­drawn from the race in or­der to sup­port the in­ter­ests and unity of African foot­ball”.

But Sexwale coun­tered the con­ti­nen­tal foot­ball gov­ern­ing body’s state­ment. Through his aid, Peter-Paul Ng­wenya, Sexwale yes­ter­day con­firmed he still in­tended to stand at the Fe­bru­ary 26 elec­tions in Zurich, Switzer­land.

Just be­fore the con­ti­nen­tal body could de­cide on its pre­ferred can­di­date for the Fifa post, Sexwale told CAF that his name should not be con­sid­ered.

In a let­ter sent to the con­fed­er­a­tion, Sexwale wrote: “We heard the mes­sage very clearly from the CAF vice-pres­i­dents that, out of the five can­di­dates, your pref­er­ence is gen­er­ally de­cided, and it is not our­selves.

“Thus, in the in­ter­est of African foot­ball unity, and in or­der to let the [ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee] ex­er­cise its free choice, my name should not be in­cluded in the list of those you shall be con­sid­er­ing to­day for nom­i­na­tion as can­di­date for the forth­com­ing Fifa pres­i­den­tial elec­tion on Fe­bru­ary 26.”

CAF’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, which met in Ki­gali, agreed to sup­port Sheikh Sal­man Bin Ibrahim al-Khal­ifa’s bid to suc­ceed Sepp Blat­ter as Fifa’s boss.

CAF ar­gued that it took into con­sid­er­a­tion all the fac­tors pre­sented to its ex­ec­u­tive be­fore mak­ing its de­ci­sion. It con­sid­ered:

The as­pi­ra­tions and in­ter­ests of the 54 mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tions of CAF and the im­por­tance at­tached to the de­vel­op­ment of foot­ball in Africa;

The pro­files of the can­di­dates, their re­spec­tive man­age­rial and political ex­pe­ri­ences in lead­ing sports as­so­ci­a­tions, foot­ball fed­er­a­tions, con­fed­er­a­tions and Fifa;

The re­cent hap­pen­ings at Fifa and the ab­so­lute ne­ces­sity to im­ple­ment solid re­forms in or­der to re­build trust in the world’s um­brella foot­ball or­gan­i­sa­tion; and

The need for Fifa to pur­sue a glob­al­ist vi­sion and re­main an in­sti­tu­tion guar­an­tee­ing equilibrium among con­ti­nents.

Sexwale’s as­so­ci­a­tion, Safa, said it would not go against CAF’s de­ci­sion.

The Union of Euro­pean Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tions (Uefa) and all seven of the Cen­tral Amer­i­can Foot­ball Union’s mem­bers — Costa Rica, El Salvador, Hon­duras, Panama, Gu­atemala, Belize and Nicaragua — de­clared their sup­port for Uefa gen­eral sec­re­tary Gianni In­fantino.

Apart from CAF’s sup­port, the sheikh is also as­sured of Asia’s sup­port.

Al­though CAF’s de­ci­sion is not bind­ing, as mem­bers are au­ton­o­mous, the con­fed­er­a­tion has urged its mem­bers to vote for the sheikh.

CAF wrote on its web­site: “While re­spect­ing the prin­ci­ple of democ­racy, the sovereignty and lat­i­tude of each mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tion to vote for the can­di­date of its choice, the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee urges all the 54 mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tions of [CAF] to re­serve their votes for [the sheikh].”

Al­though fail­ing to win Africa’s sup­port for his cam­paign was a huge em­bar­rass­ment for Sexwale, the signs had long been there.

PHOTO: STR / GETTY IM­AGES

FAVOURITE Sheikh Sal­man Bin Ibrahim al-Khal­ifa has CAF’s back­ing

PHOTO: DEN­ZIL MAREGELE

LONE RANGER Tokyo Sexwale does not have the con­ti­nent’s sup­port

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