After 28 years, a new president has emerged to head the Confederation of African Football for the next four years. The Madagascar Football Association president, Ahmad Ahmad is only the fifth president since 1957. He emerged the winner after recording 34 of the total 54 votes. He defeated Cameroonian former sprinter and incumbent president, Issa Hayatou, who was contesting for his eighth term after 28 years of leading the association.
70-year-old Hayatou became the head of the continental football body in 1988, following the retirement of Ethiopia’s Ydnekatchew Tessema from the CAF presidency in August 1987. He has overseen a number of positive changes in African football, including bringing the 2010 FIFA World Cup, that was hosted by South Africa, to Africa for the first time. He has also been a member of the executive body of the world football governing body, serving as the acting FIFA president between October 2015 and February 2016 following the suspension of Sepp Blatter on corruption grounds. Hayatou had earlier in 2002 lost to Blatter in the FIFA presidency election.
The election that saw the emergence of Gianni Infantino, however, left CAF exposed has Hayatou has previously pledged his and Africa’s allegiance to FIFA presidential candidate, Sheikh Salman of Bahrain. The relationship between CAF and FIFA has since not been smooth.
57-year old Ahmad is a former footballer and a coach who became the head of the Madasgar Football Association in 2003. His candidacy, as well as his victory, have been a surprise to the followers of the game. However, campaigning on the platform of change and feeding the appetite of football administrators who had been increasingly getting tired of seeing the same person at the head of CAF since 1988, pulling off the surprise was never going to unachievable. His emergence has now recreated the surprise witnessed during FIFA’s election in February 2016.
The outcome of the event means Hayatou will cease to be a member of FIFA’s executive committee where he is serving as a senior vice president.
In a similar event, the president of the Nigerian Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, who earlier in February expressed his support for the new president, has also been elected into CAF’s executive committee. The head of the Nigerian FA defeated Beninoise Anjorin Ayodele Moucharafou with 32 votes to 17.