Young guns usher in new dawn for African football
The tsunami that last week blew Issa Hayatou out of the top job he had occupied for almost 30 years has been steadily building up – right under his nose – in the southern African region, writes
Those who attended last week’s 39th CAF Ordinary General Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, say the bemused look on Issa Hayatou’s face was priceless when the results showed that he had lost to Ahmad Ahmad. The votes were 34 to 20 in Ahmad’s favour.
This spelt the end of more than two decades of rule by the iron-fisted Cameroonian – he became the head of African football in 1988.
Hayatou should have long ago seen the writing on the wall, but, as one thought leader once opined, “most of us can read the writing on the wall, we just assume it’s addressed to someone else”.
What culminated in Ahmad being elevated to the onerous position of CAF president started with a systematic removal of the old order in the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa).
By the time last week’s poll happened, 11 of the 14 Cosafa football associations were under a new leadership of presidents in their early or mid-50s (spring chickens in football administration terms, especially on the continent).
Leading the pack is the powerful and wealthy Dr Philip Chiyangwa (59), who is said to be worth about $288 million (R3.6 billion) – making him the sixth-richest man in Zimbabwe. He took over the reins at the Zimbabwe Football Association in December 2015 before ascending to the Cosafa seat unopposed last December.
With his election, which ended the 10-year reign of Seychellois Suketu Patel, a staunch Hayatou supporter and now deposed CAF vice-president, came that of Namibian Football Association president Frans Mbidi as vice-president.
The latter narrowly missed out on a seat in the CAF executive in last week’s elections.
HERO Ahmad Ahmad
FRESH BLOOD Mbidi Frans