Hayatou’s ouster and the future of CAF


It is no longer news that long-time President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Issa Hayatou, recently lost his eighth term re-election bid. If he had succeeded in the bid, the victory would have made Hayatou one of the world’s two longest serving sports administrators ever. But that was not to be for the Camerounian born swimmer turned sports administrator as he lost to Ahmad, the President of the Madagascar Football Association. Before his dramatic loss to Ahmad, Hayatou wielded enormous power at CAF. He was so powerful that there was no use contesting against him. His defeat at the last election, thus, remains a great shock to many soccer fans across the continent as no one, except perhaps those that were directly involved in the scheme to oust him, actually saw it coming. Soccer pundits have tried to explain Hayatou’s fall from different perspectives. For instance, it has been alleged that he was too overconfident that victory was certain. Therefore, he grossly underestimated the depth of the movement that was against him. Another perspective alleges that Hayatou’s perceived frosty relationship with the new leadership at Federation of International Football Associations, FIFA cost him the CAF seat. Giovanni Vincenzo “Gianni” Infatino, the new FIFA boss was reported to have been in Africa for three weeks before the election to campaign against Hayatou. One source said: “Infantino was constantly on phone with the friendly federations to solicit support for Ahmad”. However, of all the propounded theories, the most feasible one is, possibly, the obvious need for change at CAF. No matter the extent of growth and development that Hayatou has brought to CAF in his 29 years sojourn at the African apex football body, his critics believed he has overstayed his welcome. Ahmad simply rode on the wave of a massive clamour for change to clinch CAF top job. One of the tragedies of leadership in Africa is over personalization of power which is visible across all sectors. In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe, 93, has been the country’s ruler since 1980. In Nigeria, it took the intervention of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, for some long serving banks CEOs to relinquish power. Likewise, the Nigeria Football Supporters Club has equally been enmeshed in leadership crisis for some time. In attempt to work out a leadership structure that will appease all parties, a new power sharing formula was put in place. But then, it is still no longer at ease at the Supporters’ Club leadership hierarchy.  This sit tight syndrome attitude is a huge blight on leaders across Africa. A good leader should know when to quit. Perhaps, more importantly, either in the public or private sector, a good leader must invest quality time and resources in developing new crop of leaders for the purpose of progress and stability. This is where Hayatou and his likes have failed considerably. That he could not put in place a clear cut succession plan after almost three decades at CAF speaks volume of his perception of leadership. One only hopes the new CAF leadership learns a big lesson from the ignoble exit of Hayatou and chose to follow a nobler path. As the euphoria of his hard won victory gradually wanes, Ahmad must come to term with the reality of the enormity of the tasks ahead. CAF is in dire need of urgent reforms. There is a need to review rules guiding the tenure of its leadership. The type of arrangement that would have made Hayatou president for life shouldn’t even be contemplated in a 21st century world where democratization has become extremely essential in all sphere of human interface. It is, therefore, essential that the new CAF leadership embrace transparency, accountability and modernization. It must introduce a new code of ethics as well as extend the ethics checks on football officials in the continent. The level of officiating at CAF competitions has not been encouraging. CAF, thus, needs to look into training and retraining of its officials to improve the game in the continent. Aside the crucial need for organizational restructuring, much still need to be done in the areas of competition, sponsorship and partnership, marketing and TV right and broadcast. Also, CAF must establish a mutually benefiting relationship with FIFA to enhance the state of the game in the continent. It is good that FIFA boss, Infantino has warmed himself into the hearts of soccer fans across Africa by increasing the size of future World Cup and financial grants to member countries. But CAF must desire to obtain much more from FIFA, especially in terms of acquiring technical expertise required to fully appropriate the business potential of the game in Africa. Globally, football has become a huge business venture and with poverty still a looming reality across the continent, Africa must leverage on all the possibilities that football could offer.   Tayo Ogunbiyi Ogunbiyi is of the Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos The post Hayatou’s ouster and the future of CAF appeared first on BusinessDay : News you can trust.
Source: Business Day Online