Is this the time for Danny Jordaan?

By Robson Sharuko

HARARE – He is the only African to organise a FIFA World Cup, receiving a Presidential award for his efforts, and seven years after celebrating his finest hour, Danny Jordaan feels the time is right for another crack for a position on the powerful executive committee that runs the world football governing body.

The 65-year-old South African Football Association boss is widely regarded as one of the finest football administrators on the continent but while he has displayed his managerial skills at the highest level, notably in organising a very successful FIFA World Cup in 2010, his attempts to climb the leadership ladder on the continent and in the world have so far failed.

Just a year after he successfully hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the first time the global showcase has been held on the continent, Jordaan saw his bid to join the FIFA executive committee go up in smoke after he failed to garner enough votes at the elections held in February 2011.

He finished in fourth place, out of the five candidates who battled for the positions, attracting just 10 votes from the 53 members of CAF while Algeria’s Mohamed polled the most votes, with 39 votes cast in his name, and Ivorian Jacques Anouma finished second with 35 votes.

Jordaan had been hoping to follow in the footsteps of France’s Michel Platini and Franz Beckenbauer of Germany, whose administrative stock sky-rocketed after they organised successful FIFA World Cup tournaments in France in 1998 and Germany in 2006, earning them places on the FIFA executive committee.

But, the South African soon realised that African football was a different ball game altogether, with some suggesting he lost because CAF president Issa Hayatou viewed him as a potential threat to his position and could have played a part in whipping voters to go against his candidature.

Jordaan was also considered an outsider, who did not grow within the CAF hierarchy, and there were fears he could rock the boat should he win a place on the FIFA executive committee.

And, to show that bigger forces were at play, Jordaan was also forced to withdraw his candidature for the COSAFA presidency that same year after his camp realised that he did not have enough backing from the regional football leaders to unseat Suketu Patel of the Seychelles, a CAF vice-president and close ally of Hayatou.

Times, though, are changing.

Hayatou’s hold on the CAF presidency has been shaken, his leadership is being challenged by Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar who has so far received the backing from COSAFA, in an unusual open rebellion against the Cameroonian strongman, with everything pointing to a close and bruising battle in Ethiopia on March 16.

The emergence of a new crop of carefree administrators on the continent, who have dared to challenge Hayatou, like Zimbabwe Football Association president Philip Chiyangwa, has dramatically changed the script and given wings to people like Jordaan to have another crack for a place at the FIFA leadership.

“SAFA President, Dr Danny Jordaan will contest for the FIFA (Council) Executive seat in the Open Category which has three vacancies of which one has to be a female candidate,” SAFA said on their website.

“Other contenders in this category are Kabele Camara of Guinea and Chabur Goc of South Sudan. Lydia Nsekera of Burundi is vying for the female position.

“Africa has seven representatives on the FIFA Council with the President of CAF being an automatic Vice-President of the world governing football body.

“There is a seat that is solely reserved for a female candidate and a representative each from the following language groups; English, French and combined Arab/Portuguese/Spanish.

“The three remaining seats will come from the Open Category, one for the female spot and two for Open contest. It is for one of these two Open contest posts that Dr Jordaan will be vying for.

“The duration of the incoming candidates run from 2017-2021.

“Over the past weekend, COSAFA Council took a decision to support their candidates, but emphasised that they will only back sitting FA presidents; which give all aspirants a jump start to their campaign. COSAFA has 14 members, meaning they carry 14 votes.”

For Jordaan, things have also changed from the dark days when his name was being dragged into the controversy that rocked FIFA and ultimately triggered the collapse of the leadership under Sepp Blatter amid allegations of massive corruption within the organisation.

Jordaan was part of the South African football leaders who were accused of allegedly playing a big part in channeling US$10 million into the coffers of the Caribbean football federation, which United States authorities claimed was a bribe meant to buy that bloc’s vote into South Africa’s corner in the race for the right to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals.

A large chunk of that money, claim US investigators, ended in the pockets of former Caribbean football boss Jack Warner, then a FIFA vice-president before he was kicked out of football administration for a variety of offences.

The South Africans claim the money was meant to help develop football in the Caribbean.

There were claims Jordaan was part of the officials who were wanted by United States and Swiss investigators and would be arrested if he travelled to Europe on FIFA business.

But that has since been found to have been incorrect as the SAFA boss was in Zurich last year when Gianni Infantino was elected FIFA president.

February 2017
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