The Confederation of African Football has experienced change in leadership for the first time in 29 years with the election of Madagascar’s football chief, Ahmad Ahmad, as president of the confederation on Thursday.
Official results showed that Ahmad won the election, which was held in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, by 34 votes to 20, beating the incumbent, Issa Hayatou.
Ahmad, who is a 57-year-old father of two, played football and had a coaching career before becoming the president of Madagascar Football Federation in 2003.
“When you try to do something, you mean that you can do it. If I can’t do it, I never stand.” Ahmad said after he was confirmed the winner of the election.
Hayatou, who is a senior vice president of FIFA, has headed CAF since 1988 and have some achievements to his name. This includes facilitating the increase in the number of African teams at the World Cup, and the bid for Africa to host the World Cup, which happened with the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
However, most of those opposed to Hayatou’s continued leadership of CAF insisted that at 70, he was too old to continue leading African football. Others felt that after being in charge for 29 years, it was time for Hayatou to leave the stage for others to bring fresh ideas that will take African football to the next level of development.
After the results were announced, delegates, supported Ahmad, including the President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, cheered and pumped their fists in the plenary hall. They also lifted Ahmad in the air in celebration.
Back in Nigeria, Pinnick face a potential friction with the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, who had announced, about a day to the CAF election, that Nigeria would cast its vote for Hayatou as a favour to his country, Cameroun, which has been Nigeria’s ally in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorists.
The announcement put Pinnick, who had publicly showed support for Ahmad, in a fix. It’s however difficult to determine whether or not Pinnick, eventually voted for Ahmad, who turned to be the winner.