the challenges of an election to the presidency of CAF


  • A highly coveted armchair

The African Football Confederation is at a turning point. The election on March 12 in Rabat, Morocco, will inevitably be historic, even if it will not have the scope of the «  earthquake  » of 2017 which saw the surprise defeat of Cameroonian Issa Hayatou after 29 years of reigns supreme over the continent’s football. His successor, the Malagasy Ahmad Ahmad will probably not be able to stand again (see the Ahmad case), leaving four contenders to embark on an election that promises to be more open than ever. The four candidates all agree on one point the economic development of African football and the need to stem the flight of young talents to foreign clubs. The other stake, and not the least, remains the maintenance every two years of the African Cup of Nations (CAN).

(Re) read >> African Football Confederation: Madagascan Ahmad succeeds Issa Hayatou

  • Who are the four candidates?

Mauritanian Ahmed Yahya is the youngest of the candidates (44 years old). Businessman, he is president of the Mauritanian Federation. With him, the selection of Mourabitounes gained more than 100 places in the FIFA rankings and participated in its first CAN (2019). These successes are his strengths, but he could suffer from the low weight of his federation within CAF. In contrast, the Ivorian Jacques Anouma is a candidate of the seraglio. Former president of the Ivorian Federation (2002-2011), he was also a member of the FIFA executive committee. Already a candidate but failed in 2013, this election remains his last chance to accede to the presidency of CAF. At 69 in fact, he is one year from the age limit.

Many see in Augustin Senghor (55 years old), an ideal profile. This president of the Senegalese Federation since 2009 is mayor (Gorée), manages a club (US Gorée), and sits on the executive committee of CAF. He is presented as the unofficial heir of Ahmad and his perfect command of English is an asset to seduce the English-speaking federations. Unless the latter opt for the only English speaker in the running: the South African Patrice Motsepe (58 years old). This billionaire, owner of the Mamelodi Sundowns club would be one of the favorites of FIFA Fifa. When we remember that the world football body played a crucial role in the election of Ahmad (or the fall of Hayatou), it would be reductive to think that the relative inexperience in the CAF bodies of Motsepe could be disabilities.

The president of CAF is elected by the presidents of the 54 federations that make it up. Each federation has one vote, which announces a disputed ballot which should be played in the second round. The time for alliances is therefore in full swing during the campaign and associations of federations could be an advantage for some, such as Patrice Motsepe who would have acquired the support of the fourteen federations of southern Africa. Conversely, Senghor, Anouma, and Yahya, all from West Africa, could be forced to share the 16 votes of the federations of the Union of West African Federations (Ufoa).

Current President Ahmad Ahmad was a candidate for his own succession until he was suspended for 5 years « from all football-related activities » by the FIFA Ethics Committee on November 23, 2020. Only , the Malagasy appealed against this decision before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Tas) in Lausanne. The latter decided to lift the suspension since January 29, 2021 pending examination of the file on March 2, 10 days before the poll. Ahmad could therefore finally stand for election if he wins the CAS? Not so sure, since CAF will wait for FIFA’s approval to validate Ahmad’s candidacy and it is not certain that he will have it. Between Ahmad and FIFA, it is no longer the time for love.

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