Moneybags storm Addis Ababa for CAF polls
Delegates foil alleged attempt to disqualify Ahmad
Attention of millions of football fans across the globe will be focused on Ethiopian capital city, Addis Ababa this evening, as the long awaited presidential election of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) holds.
Madagascar’s FA boss, Ahmad Ahmad, is challenging incumbent Issa Hayatou of Cameroun for Africa’s top football position. Ahmad’s is the first serious challenge to Hayatou’s 29-year leadership of African football and the politicking has generated a lot of interest across the football world.
Aside the race for the presidency, there are also contests for membership of the CAF executive council, with Nigeria’s Amaju Pinnick challenging Benin Republic’s Anjorin Moucharafou.
The Guardian learnt yesterday that top politicians from various parts of the continent are already on ground in Addis Ababa soliciting votes for their candidates. Some of the visitors are said to be dangling ‘heavy cash’ at some FA chairmen, who they view as obstacles to their candidates’ success at the polls.
There were reports yesterday that CAF attempted to disqualify Ahmad from the polls and even refused to accredit him for the exercise. The issue was settled when many of the delegates rose against the CAF executive committee.
With Eritrea disqualified for not entering any recent CAF competitions, the other 53 CAF member states will vote and a simple majority is needed for either Hayatou or Ahmad to win the contest.
A source hinted yesterday that majority of the eligible votes were being chased from one point to another by the desperate moneybags.Ahmad, who took the reins of the Madagascar football federation in 2003, officially has the support of the 14 member countries of the southern African confederation (COSAFA), of which Madagascar is part.
As at yesterday evening, a source in Addis Ababa hinted that Ahmad’s camp had control of the number he requires to beat Hayatou in today’s election.
The emergence of Ahmad as the standard bearer of those seeking change took many involved in African football by surprise. The 57-year-old says he wants to reform the administration of CAF to prevent politics interfering with the organisation of the confederation.
According to supersport.com, one major campaign some loyalists of Hayatou hold against Ahmad is that he is from a weak football nation, Madagascar, who are ranked 39th of 54 African national teams.
But Ahmad says such campaign should not hold water: “This is an argument to try and defeat me, but look at the presidents of the Asian and North-Central American confederations – they are from Bahrain and Canada. The senior vice-president of CAF, Suketu Patel, comes from the Seychelles, whose national team is ranked 51st in Africa.”Ahmad has based his campaign on “transparency in the management” of CAF and an end to “obsolete practices.”
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