Issa Hayatou, the man who « leaded » African football!


African football continues to eat its black bread due in particular to a structural dysfunction which prevents it from making the long-awaited qualitative leap and following in the footsteps of football in other continents.

South African Patrice Motsepe, the current CAF president, tried to shake things up but failed to make a big step forward due to a flawed all-round structure

And for good reason, the Cameroonian Issa Hayatou and the Madagascan Ahmad Ahmad, the two former bosses of the apex body of African football, left behind them a legacy that was difficult to manage, so bad governance and clientelism were deeply rooted in the structures of CIF.

A matter of friends and influence peddling

Throughout the reign of Cameroonian Issa Hayatou, the organization of the African Cup of Nations (CAN) was a matter of friends and « influence peddling », and not of the ability to meet the demands of a competition as posh as the CAN.

These actions of the man nicknamed the emperor earned him a suspension from the International Football Federation (FIFA) in 2021, when an investigation by the ethics committee confirmed that the latter did not respect the rules. competition rules when signing the contract with Lagardère Sports in 2016 relating to the marketing of media and marketing rights for competitions organized by Caf between 2014 and 2017.

Issa Hayatou was deprived of any football-related activity for a year, before being rehabilitated in his rights, last February, by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

It goes without saying that several countries have taken advantage of special privileges from the « guru » of African football to organize this game twice in the space of a few years.

The most edifying example is that of Tunisia which hosted the 1994 and 2004 editions thanks in particular to the close relations between Issa Hayatou and Slim Chiboub, the former member of the executive office.

Also, South Africa was able to organize two editions of the CAN, precisely those of 1996 and 2013, just like Equatorial Guinea which had the opportunity to host two editions in the space of only three years (2012 and 2015), also taking advantage of their privileged relationship with the Cameroonian leader.

Morocco could also have joined the very restricted circle of nations that have organized the CAN twice had it not been for its withdrawal from hosting the CAN 2015 due to the spread of the Ebola fever epidemic at that time. As a reminder, the North African country has already hosted the 1988 edition of the CAN.

Guinea… on what criteria?

In 2014, CAF, chaired at the time by Issa Hayatou, awarded the organization of CAN 2023 to Guinea. This unilateral decision by the former CAF boss caused a lot of ink to flow at the time, as the West African country did not have the necessary infrastructure to host a football competition. scale of the CAN.

Some rumors at the time had evoked a close relationship between the ousted Cameroonian leader and Amadou Diaby, the former vice-president of the Guinean Football Federation who was behind this « poisoned gift ».

Logically, the governing body of African football has decided to withdraw the right to organize CAN 2025 (CAN 2023 being postponed) from Guinea for non-compliance with the work schedule.

A new call for applications will be launched soon to determine the country that will organize CAN 2025.

Algeria blacklisted, until when?

Unlike other African countries, Algeria has not had the opportunity to organize this continental game since the 1990 edition, which was a great success in the opinion of several observers at the time.

Very little influential in the workings of CAF, Algeria paid cash for its “cold” relationship with the former boss of African football.

It goes without saying that Issa Hayatou has done a lot of harm to African football which has become easy prey for clientelism and special privileges.

Today, the ball is more than ever in the court of Patrice Motsepe, the president of CAF, who has an interest in establishing a real professional structure that will promote African football in a sustainable way.

The South African leader has taken an encouraging first step by withdrawing the organization of CAN 2025 from Guinea in order to avoid a new fiasco which could once again damage the reputation of African football.

That said, the choice of the nation which will organize this game will have to be made in full transparency, especially since some countries, such as Algeria, seem well equipped on all fronts to make a success of this great celebration of African football.

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