Issa Hayatou’s quest to hang on to power at the helm of African football has taken a big hit with the news that Nigeria is backing his rival Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar.
Ahmad’s aspiration to oust Hayatou who has been CAF president since 1992 has dominated the headlines in the build up to the CAF elections in Ethiopia next month.
He believes he has already garnered enough support to see off the veteran Hayatou and told a radio broadcast on Wednesday that he now also had the backing of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President Amaju Pinnick. “He is a close ally and belongs to the group that wants change in African football administration,” said Ahmad.
The Madagascan FA chief insisted his bid to succeed Hayatou, who has had health issues in recent months, was nothing personal but simply to breathe new life into the confederation, something reportedly supported by FIFA president Gianni Infantino who was in Zimbabwe last weekend and has been in Qatar for the last couple of days at a summit with Asian federations.
Ahmad argues that CAF’s Executive Committee wields too much political influence on deciding hosts for CAF competitions and wants the entire membership to have an input. It has not gone unnoticed that the CAF exco last month withdrew hosting rights to the 2017 under-17 Nations Cup from Ahmad’s native Madagascar, a decision linked by some observers to his bid to end Hayatou’s reign.
“I’m preparing for the CAF election like any other election. We want change in the Confederation. We need a reform in the finance programme of CAF,” insisted Ahmad. “We want ex-footballers to join the body. “I’m not going after Issa Hayatou or replacing him, the goal is to change the system.”