By Elah Geoffrey Mbongale
The old lion of African football, Issa Hayatou, suffered a humiliating defeat last Thursday, March 16 to Ahmad of Madagascar losing 34 to 20 votes at the 39th CAF Congress in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, thereby ending his 29-year-old reign as president of the Confederation of African Football.
The devastating defeat also means that Hayatou automatically loses his FIFA seat as Vice President of the word soccer-governing body where he remains the oldest man at 71 years.
No sooner had the result been called than jubilant FA presidents carry Ahmad shoulder high and Hayatou caught a pitiable sight as he staggered out before aides offered help to him.
Ahmad becomes only the seventh CAF president in the body’s 60-year history.
The 57-year-old Ahmad who goes only by a single name, said: “When you try to do something, you mean that you can do it. If I can’t do it, I never stand.
“This is sweet victory. When you work hard for years and months and succeed, that is great.”
Ahmad who became Madagascar FA chief in 2003, takes over as CAF president on an initial 4-year term, and has promised to modernise the body and make it more transparent. His first job, he said would be to introduce a new code of ethics.
Hayatou, in charge for nearly three decades, has often been re-elected unopposed. On the two occasions when he did face a challenge, he won with landslides amongst the electorate of presidents of Africa’s football associations.
In 2000, he beat Angola’s Armando Marchado by 47-4 votes and four years later, he defeated Ismail Bihamjee of Botswana by 46-6 votes.
Ahmad, 57, had a discreet coaching and playing career before he took the presidency of the Madagascar football federation in 2003.
Before Issa Hayatou took the presidency in 1988, Abdel Aziz Abdallah Salem and Abdel Halim Muhammad of Egypt and Yidnekatchew Tessema of Ethiopia ruled the 54 member CAF.
“His Excellency Issa Hayatou has done a lot for African football (but) it is time for him to step back”, Said George Afriyie, vice president of the Ghana Football Association.
Liberia Football Association president, Musa Bility added: Africa has made an emphatic decision that we are ready for change.”