Hayatou powers challenged at CAS
Africa's most powerful football leader, Issa Hayatou, is having his authority challenged at sport's highest court.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport said this past week that Liberian football leaders have appealed to overturn election rules which protect Hayatou, the Confederation of African Football president, from challenges.
The challenge comes as Zambians accuse CAF of treating Southern Africa unfairly in its selection of Africa’s best players.
The Zambians feel it is a travesty that their national team captian, Christopher Katongo, is not on the five-player shortlist for the continent’s best footballer of the year despite leading Chipolopolo to an unlikely AFCON title in January 2012.
Hayatou, a long-standing FIFA vice president, has led CAF since 1987 and steered through amendments in September blocking his likely strongest opponents from competing against him next year.
CAS said it has registered appeals from the Liberia Football Association against changes to the CAF statutes, which take effect next Monday.
Liberian officials asked for interim verdicts to block the amendments until a full hearing is held, the court said.
“(CAF) has been formally notified of the appeals and has been invited to file an answer to the requests for provisional measures,” the court said in a statement. It was expected to give interim rulings within days.
CAS said the Liberian FA also appealed against the African body's plans to screen candidates for other elections scheduled March 10, 2013 in Morocco.
The Liberian case attacks CAF on legal technicalities including whether it gave a required 90-day notice to change its statutes.
Hayatou's grip on power in African football has seldom been questioned, but he moved to amend CAF election rules after his FIFA executive committee colleague Jacques Anouma emerged as an election rival.
Anouma, from Cote d’Ivoire, and South African official Danny Jordaan – who led the 2010 World Cup organising team – were seen as potential challengers though neither was a voting member of the CAF ruling panel.
Hayatou called a special meeting of CAF's 54 member nations in the Seychelles where an Algerian proposal was passed limiting the presidential race to candidates who were ''current or former members of the Executive Committee.''
FIFA President Sepp Blatter was present to give his blessing to Hayatou's victory in a 44-6 vote.
“This is the wish and will of the confederation and national associations,'' Blatter said in September when asked how the vote squared with FIFA's promised moves toward better and more transparent governance after a series of election and financial scandals.
Blatter comfortably defeated Hayatou, his fellow International Olympic Committee member, when the Cameroonian official challenged him for the FIFA presidency in 2002.
Meanwhile, soccer fans in Zambia are outraged that CAF has ignored Christopher Katongo’s contributions to the game over the past year. Katongo was among the initial nominees for this year’s CAF best footballer award but was omitted from the final five nominees. The final five nominees are Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure (Cote d’Ivoire), Demba Ba (Senegal), Andre “Dede” Ayew (Ghana) and Alexander Song (Cameroon).